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January 29, 2013

Touring the Cosmos: Threshold #1

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Written by: mike
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DC Comics’ newest foray into the stars comes in a fresh new title called Threshold. Written by Keith Giffen, it is a title that does not star one particular character, but promises to showcase a variety of characters, from the Omega Men to Larfleeze to Blue Beetle. Giffen is known for his science fiction work, and is no stranger to writing in space, having written Lobo, Blue Beetle, various Green Lantern stories, and the classic Annihilation.




Threshold #1

Writer: Keith Giffen
Artists: Tom Raney (“The Hunted”) and Scott Kolins (“Nine Tenths of the Law”)
Colorists: Andrew Dalhouse (“The Hunted”) and John Kalisz (“Nine Tenths of the Law”)

DC Comics is attempting to  have another crack at their vast cosmic universe. Threshold looks to be a title that will follow a variety of characters, coming and going as the story pleases. For the first issue we follow Caul, a renegade Green Lantern in “The Hunted,” and Larfleeze in a story called “Nine Tenths of the Law.” It has been a while since DC has put out an ongoing that deals with the pleasures of space and science fiction. There have been a few mini-series along the way, but not since R.E.B.E.L.S. has there been a consistent ongoing. And what better writer than the masterful Keith Giffen to spearhead this new effort? As mentioned earlier, Giffen is no stranger to the cosmic universe, with a long list of stories and titles that are heavy in the science fiction genre. In Threshold, we are taken to the planet Tolerance, where a major cosmic game is played. The Hunted is a TV show that involves a series of beings with bounties on their heads being hunted by anyone who fancies some extra credits in their pockets. New characters are introduced, and the stage is set for what is to come. The other story in Threshold involves the ever popular Larfleeze. The sole orange lantern is being targeted by secret beings attempting to steal his orange power battery.

“Nine Tenths of the Law” is an easy story to follow. Larfleeze’s comedic yet dangerous nature is played really well by Giffen, using a random alien as the hilarious foil. Giffen has a good grasp of what makes Larfleeze tick, which made for some hilarious moments. The story isn’t all silliness, but gives a decent, quick glimpse at the origin of Larfleeze, while setting the stage for what is to come for ol’ Larfleeze. Larfleeze is an immensely powerful character, so seeing him at the mercy of others because his own nature betrayed him was a nice twist. Scott Kolins provides some excellent interiors, as well. There is constant clutter, which is true to Larfleeze’s nature. The problem with the visual of Larfleeze is the same one that many artists have, though. Sometimes he walks like an ape, sometimes like a human, sometimes like a spider. There are times when he is drawn with tiny toothpick legs and hulking shoulders, and others where he is a slim almost human-like being. Kolins isn’t the only artist who has had this problem, but hopefully with more experience with the character he will get a better handle of it. Colorist John Kalisz does some really nice work in this story, as well. He really makes Larfleeze’s suit and colors pop, as well as Starblade. The various collected items around Larfleeze’s lair, though, have no real color and look like a collection of dust and garbage. This makes for a really nice contrast, and goes a long way in telling a bit about Larfleeze’s personality.

While the Larfleeze story was easy to follow, “The Hunted” was not. First off, in order to have any idea of what is going on, you have to read Green Lantern: New Guardians Annual #1. This story introduces Caul the Green Lantern, what he did, and why he is on the run. To get an even better understanding, Blue Beetle #16 introduces the cosmic game called The Hunted, as well. Both of these stories introduce the concepts that are further explored in Threshold #1. “The Hunted”  introduces a few characters, which all seem like old characters with new skins. Stealth (Gamora), Rikane Starr (Star-Lord), and even that big green slug (Mojo) seem like characters we have all seen before. Even the idea of the game The Hunted seems like a mix of “Avengers Arena” and Mojoworld. Giffen also bogs down the story and escape of Caul with seemingly unnecessary dialog that only manages to confuse the reader. While jumping right into action and a story is a nice change of pace for a first issue, the unknown cast and concept make for a difficult and confusing read. If Giffen can manage to find a little more voice and uniqueness in his story, though, it does have some potential. The characters do have some intrigue to them, and for the most part aren’t very bland. The nice part of this story was the artwork of Tom Raney. There was plenty of well drawn action, unique environments, and strange looking aliens. He even managed to make the clothing look alien, which was a nice touch. Andrew Dalhouse’s color was bright when it had to be, and murky and warm when it was needed.

There have been hints along the way as to who will be appearing in this title. Lady Styx, a cosmic level villain, has been hinted at many times and will make her appearance soon enough. Blue Beetle has been mentioned, and considering the way his series ended, expect to see him soon. Caul, the main character in “The Hunted,” is a Green Lantern, so it would be safe to assume that eventually some of the GLC will be showing up. There has been mention of the Omega Men by DC Comics, as well. Keith Giffen is also very good at creating amazing casts of B-listers, with Captain K’Rot on the horizon. Hopefully the likes of Adam Strange, Lobo, and even the R.E.B.E.L.S. will appear at one point or another. The possibilities are endless.

Giffen’s first entry for the Threshold was very hit and miss. Larfleeze’s tale was funny and entertaining, while “The Hunted” was confusing and a little overdone. The fact that other titles are necessary to have any idea of what is going on was pretty irritating, and takes away from “The Hunted.” While Lady Styx and her cosmic bounty game seem to be the main focus for now, it is still a story that can be salvaged. Characters need a more focused voice, and the concept as a whole needs a little more originality. That being said, this title still has tons of potential. The art in both stories was a treat for the eyes, and really fit with the voice of the writer in both cases. Kolins and Raney were both backed by wonderful colorists and came together for some complete looking pages. In a universe as big as the one in DC, there are limitless possibilities for stories and characters to appear. Hopefully some more fan favorites will show up in due time. Threshold is one of those titles that has to be big out of the gate in order to keep sales going and keep the series running. Giffen has the potential to write some great science fiction stories, so hopefully a little more of that will show up. Being only one issue in, it is a bit early to be too critical, so give this series some time to find its legs.

Mike Parente



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