Mister Terrific (Michael Holt)

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Michael Holt
Michael Holt as Mister Terrific as he appeared on a splash page of The Terrifics #4 (May 2018).
Art by Evan "Doc" Shaner.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceSpectre (vol. 3) #54
Created byJohn Ostrander
Tom Mandrake
In-story information
Alter egoDr. Michael Curtis Holt
Team affiliationsJustice Society of America
Justice League
  • Genius-level intellect
  • Proficient scientist, engineer, and physician
  • Use of T-Spheres
  • Invisibility to technology
  • Skilled athlete and martial artist
Mister Terrific
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
Publication dateSeptember 2011 – April 2012
No. of issues8
Creative team
Written byEric Wallace
Artist(s)Gianluca Gugliotta, Scott Clark, James Taylor

Michael Holt is a superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. He is the second character to take up the Mister Terrific mantle.

Echo Kellum portrayed a version of the character renamed Curtis Holt in the CW Arrowverse series Arrow, from the fourth to the final eighth season. Edi Gathegi will play the character in the 2025 film Superman, set in the DC Universe (DCU).

Publication history[edit]

Michael Holt was created by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake and first appeared in Spectre (vol. 3) #54 (June 1997).[1]

Fictional character biography[edit]

At a very young age, Michael Holt shows remarkable intelligence, reading comprehension and ability to assimilate the works of Aage Bohr, Albert Einstein, Max Planck and Richard Feynman, the pantheon of theoretical physics.[2] Michael grows up with his mentally challenged older brother, Jeffrey, whom he loved dearly. When Jeffrey dies at the age of 12, Michael is devastated.[3]

Holt displays "a natural aptitude for having natural aptitudes", as he calls it, easily picking up and retaining complex skills and abilities that others spend their entire lives perfecting. Before he begins his career as a superhero, he already possesses 14 Ph.Ds (two in engineering and physics—including doctorates and master's degrees in law, psychology, chemistry, political science, computer science, rocket science, and mathematics[4][5])—is a self-made multi-millionaire[2] with a high tech firm called Cyberwear (subsequently sold to Waynetech[4]), and is a gold medal-winning Olympic decathlete.

The accidental deaths of his wife and unborn child are a devastating blow to Holt. He considers himself responsible for the accident as he made his wife late for church by arguing with her about the value of religion. While contemplating suicide, the Spectre (Jim Corrigan) tells him about Terry Sloane, the Golden Age superhero known as Mister Terrific. Inspired by Sloane's life story, Holt takes the name Mister Terrific[6] and later joins the current Justice Society of America (JSA), eventually serving as its chairman.

Initially, he wears ordinary clothes and a leather jacket with Sloane's "Fair Play" emblem on the back. Later, he switches to a T-shaped mask composed of electronic nanites, a black and white costume with red trim, and a collarless jacket in the same colors (the black sections of tunic and jacket forming a "T") with "Fair Play" written on the sleeves and "Terrific" across the back.

For a time, he acts as spokesperson for Tylerco and consults for the company on industrial espionage and security matters in exchange for it helping fund a youth center Terrific has started.[7]

Holt, as he appeared on the cover of JSA #76, during the Infinite Crisis events.Art by Alex Ross.

Holt has a friendly rivalry with Batman, his opposite number in the Justice League of America (in his identity as Bruce Wayne, Batman owns Holt's business). Holt has encountered Sloane twice through time travel, with Sloane expressing pride in having so worthy a successor. Holt has been noted as the most intelligent member of the JSA in its history, surpassing his predecessor. He is also known as the third-smartest person in the world,[8] and this notion now appears to be widespread within the DC Universe.[9]

Justice Society of America chairmanship[edit]

During a conflict over leadership of the Justice Society between former chairman Hawkman and then-current chairman Sand, Terrific is elected as the JSA's new chairman by his teammates, despite not actively seeking the office.[10] He serves in this capacity until the team disbands following the Infinite Crisis.

Mr. Terrific currently remains a member of the reformed Justice Society of America. He resumed his chairmanship from the last incarnation of the team,[11] but his leadership responsibilities in Checkmate eventually prompt him to relinquish the position to Power Girl.[12]

Infinite Crisis[edit]

Mr. Terrific is part of the team assembled by Batman for an attack on the Brother Eye satellite responsible for controlling the OMACs. He plays a critical role as his invisibility to technology allows him to reach the satellite's propulsion system, sending it crashing to Earth. During this time, he meets and befriends another African American superhero—Black Lightning.

One Year Later[edit]

In the "One Year Later" storyline, Holt is still a member of the JSA, and he has also become part of the United Nations Security Council's intelligence agency, Checkmate. He holds the position of White King's Bishop initially, but when the previous White King (Alan Scott) is forced to resign, he becomes Checkmate's new White King, complicating his relationship with Sasha Bordeaux, Checkmate's Black Queen. He has also given up his chairman position, which has been taken over by Power Girl. Mr. Terrific has also established an ill-defined mentorship with Firestorm over the missing year.

Holt is forced to face his issues with faith once again when the JSA confront Gog, a God of the Second World. Not only is Gog incapable of hearing Terrific due to his lack of faith, but during a trip to the Earth-Two of the new multiverse, Holt encounters his Earth-Two counterpart, who is now a devout believer after having a religious experience on the day his wife survived her accident.

Final Crisis[edit]

During the Final Crisis of Humanity, the war between Darkseid and the human world, Mister Terrific, along with Cheetah and Snapper Carr, are left trapped in the ruins of Checkmate headquarters, unable to get past the brainwashed metahuman, and caring for Sasha, who prefers using her OMAC programming to shut down her bodily functions rather than falling prey to the Anti-Life Equation. Forcefully waking up Sasha, thus condemning her, Michael Holt has no choice but to activate a new OMAC population, programmed to obey him rather than Brother Eye, and to protect the last few humans against the new Justifiers.

Death and return[edit]

In Justice Society of America vol. 3 series, Mr. Terrific takes over the research, just as the low-level villain Tapeworm appears on the news, taking hostages and demanding that Wildcat show himself. All-American Kid and King Chimera must remain in the brownstone, Mister Terrific retreats to his lab, and the rest of the team leaves to help Wildcat. All-American Kid goes into the lab and stabs Mister Terrific in the back, pretending to have been mind controlled.[13] Justice Society members arrive back at headquarters to discover Mr. Terrific has been attacked, and Doctor Mid-Nite tends to his wounds.[14] In the end, Mister Terrific succumbs to his injuries and Alan Scott reports that he has died.[15] However, Scott is able to use the power of the Green Flame to slow down time around Mister Terrific's body in the hopes that he can be healed before brain death occurs.[16] Michael is restored to life by the magic of the new Doctor Fate, and attacks All-American Kid, revealing that he is actually the teenage psychopath known as Kid Karnevil, and subdues him.[17] For a short time during his recovery, Michael is forced to use a wheelchair, although he still finds time to upgrade Mister America's whip.[18]

The New 52[edit]

In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC's continuity. In this new timeline, Mister Terrific received a self-titled ongoing series written by Eric Wallace and drawn by Roger Robinson.[19] Holt begins sporting a new costume designed by Cully Hamner.[20] He is also in a relationship with Karen Starr.

On January 12, 2012, DC announced that it would be ending six of the lowest selling New 52 titles in April, replacing them with six different titles in the revamp's second wave.[21] Mister Terrific was cancelled with issue #8 in April 2012.[22] The series ends with Mister Terrific being displaced to a parallel universe where he continues to appear in the Earth-2 series.[23]

DC Rebirth[edit]

In 2016, DC Comics implemented another relaunch of its books called "DC Rebirth" which restored its continuity to a form much as it was prior to "The New 52". In Dark Days: The Forge, Mister Terrific returns to Prime Earth as Batman unveils a containment unit in The Lunar Batcave bearing the Plastic Man logo, and suggests it is time to release him.[24]

Mister Terrific stumbles upon Simon Stagg's plot to open a portal to the Dark Multiverse with Metamorpho transmutated to Nth Metal. While trying to get Simon Stagg to close the portal with the help of Plastic Man, Mister Terrific is sucked in to the portal with Plastic Man and Metamorpho as Plastic Man shields them from the Dark Multiverse energy. Upon arriving on a lifeless world, they encounter Phantom Girl who has been trapped in her intangible form and had no knowledge of sending a signal. When the four of them find a computer in the gut of a dead giant creature, they are greeted by a hologram of Tom Strong who states that they are needed to save the universe.[25] Mister Terrific, Plastic Man, and Metamorpho learn from Phantom Girl that she was stuck in intangible form since she was a child. After the four of them made it back to their world, Mister Terrific tries to leave the three of them at Simon Stagg's compound only to be drawn back to them.[26] Due to the effects of the Dark Multiverse energy, Mister Terrific concludes that they can't go their separate ways due to this bond. Mister Terrific was able to come up with a compromise with Simon Stagg by investigating the bond at his facility. This leads to Mister Terrific to find the Tom Strong that sent left the message and find out how to get untethered by the dark energy.[27]

In the "Watchmen" sequel "Doomsday Clock," Mister Terrific was seen with the Justice Society after Doctor Manhattan undid the experiment that erased the Justice Society and the Legion of Super-Heroes.[28]

The New Golden Age[edit]

In "The New Golden Age", Mister Terrific talked with the Justice Society about what has changed following their fight with Per Degaton. Stargirl arrived with Boom and the Hourman android.[29] Mister Terrific was with Green Lantern and the Hourman android look at the pictures of the Lost Children where it is mentioned that most of their mentors and/or family members are long dead. He suggests that they go with Stargirl's idea for a Young Justice Society the moment everyone returns. Upon meeting Terry Sloane's sidekick Quiz Kid, Mister Terrific gets Quiz Kid his own place. Though Quiz Kid does pitch some ideas to Mister Terrific about his T-Spheres.[30] Mister Terrific accompanied Power Girl and Jakeem Thunder to Belle Reve Penitentiary in trying to get Icicle II to join the JSA. Mister Terrific offers to grant him a second chance by having him do good as Icicle II states that he'll take the offer if they can get him away from the heat lamps.[31] Flash mentions to Huntress that Mister Terrific is making some Power Restraints to be used on Icicle.[32] Mister Terrific here's status of Damage and Dan the Dyna-Mite being hooked up, Phantom Lady working to hook Cherry Bomb and Ladybug up with the Freedom Fighters, and Steel's family taking in John Henry Jr. Quiz Kid shows him his version of the T-Sphere called the Q-Sphere as Mister Terrific states to Quiz Kid that Terry Sloane would've been proud of his accomplishments. Mister Terrific and Power Girl inform Huntress, Green Lantern, and Red Lantern II about the re-emergence of the Golden Age Legionnaire who helped to subdue Harlequin's Son. As Mister Terrific informs Huntress about the Legionnaire's exploits, he shoots down Green Lantern's suggestion to bring in Ma Hunkel to help detail more of the Legionnaire. He is present during Legionnaire's explanation of him wanting to join the Justice Society due to Huntress being the source behind second chances. Having been advised not to react upon the unmasking, Mister Terrific is among those that learn that Legionnaire is a younger Mordru who is wanting to avoid the path of evil claiming that Huntress might help him before this time period and the future are destroyed.[33]

Stargirl called in Mister Terrific to help out Flash and Boom in accessing Boom's memory of seeing Doctor Elemental unmasked. Taking them to his lab, Mister Terrific rounded up Quiz Kid and Fairplay to help him work on an invention to access Boom's memory. Upon creating the Memory Imager, Mister Terrific uses it to access that memory as they learn that Doctor Elemental is Professor Hughes who Flash claims was responsible for him gaining his super-speed.[34] After Doctor Elemental abducted Boom, Mister Terrific enlists everyone he can to find her. Mister Terrific later contacts Flash stating that he traced a suspicious signal associated with beams coming out of the different S.T.A.R. Labs branches to a small island in the Atlantic Ocean. After Doctor Elemental's plot was thwarted which led to him getting away, Mister Terrific was outside of Flash's hospital room with Joan Garrick and Doctor Mid-Nite. He, Quiz Kid, and Fairplay later attend a party held by the Flash family.[35]

Religious beliefs[edit]

While being held captive by Onimar Synn on an adventure with the Justice Society on Thanagar, Holt first expresses his disbelief in souls and that he is uncomfortable with the notion of reincarnation after witnessing the return of teammate Hawkman. Holt states, "when my wife, Paula, was killed in a car accident ... she was gone. I didn't feel her 'soul' around me. Didn't feel anything".[36] He later elaborates on this by explaining that his lack of faith extends back prior to his wife's death, and states that he blames himself for her death as he delayed her going to church because the two of them argued about the merits of faith. Holt believes that she would have avoided the accident if she had not been arguing with him. He acknowledges the irony of this given such factors as the Spectre's role in his origin, and his encounter with the likes of the Spirit King, but he still maintains his skepticism about faith and religion.

After a near-death experience where he sees his wife and unborn child (whom he decides to name 'Terry' after the original Mister Terrific), Holt's atheism is shaken and he agrees to attend a church service with teammate Doctor Mid-Nite.[37]

However, this attempt to find religion apparently is not satisfying as Holt is also seen getting into a theological discussion with Ragman during the Infinite Crisis (Ragman is Jewish while Mr. Terrific describes himself as an atheist). When asked if he has faith in anything, Terrific answered, "Sure I do. I've got faith in my team."[8]

During Thy Kingdom Come, when Power Girl is sent back to the Earth-2 pre-Crisis universe, she meets her world's Michael Holt, who is ironically a priest after he has a religious experience. During the same storyline, 'our' Holt told Doctor Mid-Nite that he feels that his issues with faith actually stem from his own inability to understand it, confessing that he wants to believe but something inside him will not let him.

Powers, abilities, and equipment[edit]

  • Holt is described as having "a natural aptitude for having natural aptitudes"; picking up complicated skills quickly and retaining them, such as performing emergency surgery on teammate Alan Scott after reading about the procedure in a medical textbook and subsequently becoming Dr. Mid-Nite's assistant. As Holt himself put it, "everyone has a talent... Mine is learning."[38][5]
  • Holt is also known as the third-smartest man on Earth.[8]
  • He is aided by his "T-Spheres", floating robotic spheres with multiple functions, holographic projection,[39] projecting laser grids,[40] and recording, communication, linking with and manipulating other electronic devices, from satellites to electronic locks.[41] They allow Terrific to fly by bearing his weight,[42] and can be used as weapons, both by exploding with enough force to send Shazam flying back,[43] generating powerful electric charges,[44] and strike as flying, projectile weapons.[45] They respond to his mental and vocal commands. He once described them as "curious" about something, implying that they possess an artificial intelligence.
  • He is invisible to nearly to all forms of electronic detection (except infrared and sonar). Despite a claim to Black Lightning in Infinite Crisis that "I've got one superpower: I'm invisible to technology," in all other instances this ability is tied to nanotechnology woven into his specially designed "T-Mask" (which is molecularly bonded to his face and can appear and disappear at will) and costume. Mr. Terrific was apparently the only superhero whom the OMACs could not detect. The only exception to his invisibility, however, is that of the Red Tornado, who, for reasons yet unknown, is capable of seeing Terrific despite being an android. Red Tornado's status as a sentient wind elemental merely occupying an android body likely explains his ability to see Holt.
  • Through his mask, Holt can change instantaneously into costume and back again.[46] His mask also protects his face from chemicals.[47] The mask works in conjunction with an earpiece to act as a communications system, and also doubles as an encephalic broadcaster, picking up aggregate thought waves, allowing him to communicate with his T-Spheres, and even project a speaking hologram of himself, even if he is injured or too weak to speak.[48] The mask can also form and transmit images on low- or high-band light frequencies visible to his teammate Doctor Mid-Nite.
  • He is a black belt in 6 different martial arts disciplines and an Olympic Gold Medalist in the decathlon.[4][49]
  • Holt is also a polymath who has specialized in multiple fields of medicine, engineering, and science. He possesses fourteen Ph.Ds (two of which are in engineering and physics).[4]
  • Along with teammate and friend Doctor Mid-Nite and Batman, Mister Terrific is one of the three main superheroes with medical training in the DC Universe. Although it is not known if he has an M.D., he did participate in the autopsy of Sue Dibny in Identity Crisis.[50]
  • Holt is also a polyglot, though the extent of this is unrevealed. He has been shown to speak the languages of the fictional nations of Kahndaq and Bialya. Given Holt's propensity for learning, it is likely that he speaks several other languages as well.[51]

Other versions[edit]


In 2008, an alternate version of Michael Holt from Earth-2 appeared in DC stories. This version is a college professor, who has a religious experience after his wife is nearly killed in an accident. This version of Paula Holt is merely left in a coma rather than dying immediately. While contemplating suicide after spending three months trying unsuccessfully to find a cure, he saves another man who is preparing to jump off the same bridge, takes him to a church that was the nearest illuminated building, and the man he saves prays for him. After his wife regains consciousness the following day, this Michael Holt went on to become a devout Christian. He helps the Power Girl of New Earth to return home.[52] When the Justice Society arrives on Earth-2, Professor Holt confronts his counterpart Michael Holt from New-Earth. Professor Holt introduces the Justice Society to his wife, Paula, although New-Earth Michael just introduces himself as Mister Terrific rather than reveal his true name.[53]


In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Mister and Missus Terrific are framed for unknown crimes when they discover Outsider's illicit schemes, and are attempting to assassinate him. Mister and Missus Terrific are both killed by Outsider's guardian statue.[54]


Mister Terrific appears in the DCeased one-shot comic "A Good Day to Die". Holt attempts to find a cure by analysing Apokolips and using magic. When neither of those options are viable, Holt reveals a final option; time travel. With the help of Booster Gold, Terrific and other heroes manage to find the location of Booster's time machine. He is stopped by Waverider and soon after is disemboweled by Big Barda while trying to save John Constantine.

In other media[edit]


Mr. Terrific as he appears in Justice League Unlimited.


Video games[edit]


Michael Holt appears in Smallville Season 11: Chaos #3. This version is a billionaire, the CEO of HoltCorp, and an associate of Bruce Wayne and Ted Kord.[64]


  • Michael Holt / Mister Terrific received a figure in the DC Universe Classics line.
  • Michael Holt / Mister Terrific received a figure in the Target-exclusive Justice League Unlimited line.


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  7. ^ JSA #5, pg.6
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External links[edit]