SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Suicide Squad #26, by Rob Williams and Stjepan Sejic, on sale now from DC Comics.
If Batman is the master of stealth departures, then Mister Terrific is a PhD in surprise arrivals. The DC Comics legacy hero, who made his Rebirth debut in June's Dark Days: The Forge #1, returns in this week's issue of Suicide Squad, bringing with him his catchphrase and a slew of questions.
It's not that his appearance is entirely unexpected; after all, it was revealed in July that Mister Terrific will lead The Terrifics, a quirky Fantastic Four-like team consisting of Plastic Man, Metamorpho and one-time Legionnaire Phantom Girl, under DC's upcoming Dark Matter banner. But how, and where, Michael Holt fits into the Dark Nights: Metal event -- to say nothing of Rebirth continuity -- remains unclear. However, with Suicide Squad #26, part of the "Gotham Resistance" tie-in, we may be inching just a little closer to learning the answer.
Billed as the third-smartest man on Earth, Michael Holt was introduced in 1997 in The Spectre #54 as the modern-day successor to Mister Terrific, the Golden Age superhero dedicated to "Fair Play" -- so much so the phrase was emblazoned on his tunic. An Olympic decathlete with 14 doctoral degrees and black belts in six martial arts, Holt is a billionaire inventor and one-time chairman of the Justice Society of America and White King of the covert-operations agency Checkmate.
Or, at least he was in a previous continuity. Following the events of 2011's "Flashpoint" crossover, which radically changed the DC Universe, Mister Terrific was reintroduced in the New 52, in which the Justice Society never existed in its classic form, where Holt instead had a career as a solo superhero. But with the cancellation of his short-lived solo title in 2012, Mister Terrific traveled to Earth 2, where a new generation of heroes emerged in the aftermath of a war with Apokolips. And there he remained, until Dark Days: The Forge.
Wearing his T-Mask, whose nanotechnology renders him invisible to electronic detection, and surrounded by multipurpose robotic T-Spheres, Mister Terrific slipped into the Lunar Batcave to take Batman by surprise, and deliver information. Able to pass back and forth between the two Earths, he's been aiding the Caped Crusader in his investigation of the Dark Multiverse. Oh, and he's familiar with Plastic Man, whom Batman has kept in "the box."
While the Dark Knights and his Justice League colleagues in Metal confront a previously untold history of the DC Universe and an invasion from the Dark Multiverse, in "Gotham Resistance," Nightwing, the Teen Titans, Green Arrow and the Suicide Squad are left to grapple with a city turned upside down by the machinations of the Batman Who Laughs and the bat-demon Barbatos. With a mountain now at its center, Gotham has been transformed into a virtually unrecognizable otherworld shaped, in part, by the whims of Batman's rogues -- one in which a Mad Max-like post-apocalyptic landscape gives way to a carnivorous jungle, and the heroes and antiheroes are set upon by dark (or darker) doppelgangers of Robin, Starfire, Captain Boomerang, Deadshot and the like.
In Suicide Squad #26, by writer Rob Williams and artist Stjepan Sejic, Nightwing, Harley Quinn, Robin and Green Arrow enter a twisted vision of Wonderland in their attempt to save Gotham, where they find Mad Hatter and White Rabbit presiding over a tea party attended by skeletons, Dick Grayson comes to realize Batman may be dead (again), and the quartet begins to doubt whether there's no escaping this nightmare.
But just as an ax-wielding Tweedledum and Tweedledee are ready to make matters worse, Mister Terrific arrives seemingly out of nowhere (looking a little worse for wear) to swiftly take out the would-be attackers and, in Terminator-like fashion, assure the downtrodden heroes there is a way out. It's not quite "Come with me if you want to live," but it's still pretty good.
Mister Terrific clearly familiar with the four heroes -- he addresses "Dr. Quinzel" by name -- but he apparently realizes they don't know him. Why else would he identify himself (other than for the benefit of the readers, that is)? What Michael Holt has planned, and whether the heroes are indeed with him, will have to wait until the conclusion of "Gotham Resistance," in Green Arrow #32.
Oh, of course they're with him. After all, he's Mister Terrific, the third-smartest man on any Earth.