If there’s one thing Keith Giffen is good at, it’s writing a story to a long-range plan. Take a look at what he’s done with Legion, Doom Patrol and even his work on “Annihilation.” Some could even argue that his co-writing with J. M. DeMatteis on “Justice League” and “Justice League International” followed a similar adherence to a grand plan. Unfortunately, in today’s comic market it seems as though patience for the payoff from long-range planning is not quite as common.
That doesn’t bode well for this comic book, as “Threshold” #2 is definitely more of a setup installment towards the longer end. While the book is not technically an anthology, this issue feels like it most certainly could be. With Tom Raney’s artwork, Giffen delivers vignettes featuring Stealth and Rikane Starr; Jaime Reyes; T’om T’Morra, Jediah Caul and Ember that all thread together around “The Hunt,” the most popular and bloodthirsty reality television show on the planet Tolerance.
Despite the seemingly diverse cast, Raney seems challenged a bit to distinguish between Caul, T’Morra and Starr. On some pages the differences are slightly more evident, but for the most part I found myself relying on tells from the colors or dialog to assist in my growing familiarity with this cast. True, Caul has a Green Lantern ring lodged in his chest, but some panels hid the ring either by default or design. Raney does a fine job with the storytelling and panel assembly, filling pages with magnificent depths of detail while drawing a fine collection of expressions and poses for the varied cast that gains a lagomorphic addition in this issue. That’s right, not only does the Jaime Reyes version of Blue Beetle join the cast in this issue, “Threshold” #2 is also the debut of Captain K’Rot.
Flipping through the book, I saw the new Captain K’Rot talking to a pig and dismissed it with, “That’s a pig.” Almost comically, I realized what I had said (which I did say out loud, mind you) and restated it as it all sunk in: “That’s. A. Pig!” As in Pig-Iron. This gives us one-third of the original Zoo Crew. Unfortunately, that one-third is filtered through the lenses of dismemberments, morally gray characters and shock value that have been hallmarks of the DC Universe line since the launch of the New 52. Steeped in the cynicism and pessimism that seems to be driving most of DC’s characters in this post-relaunch universe, these characters, despite their names, have disappointingly little to do with the fan favorite funny animals of yesteryear. I’m going to try to let that go and give these new characters a chance to prove themselves as new concepts, but truly new concepts should be worthy of new identities rather than pilfered monikers and a false pretense of legacy.
One concept that hasn’t suffered from the relaunch is Larfleeze. The Scott Kolins drawn backup story continues in this issue. As with most Larfleeze appearances, there is a fair amount of humor present in this second installment of Larfleeze’s quest to reclaim his collection. The backup is more tightly focused than the lead in “Threshold” #2, almost certainly due to the tight focus of Larfleeze’s obsession with his possessions.
“Threshold” #2 continues to get the new toys out of the toybox. I think it’s safe to say we haven’t seen everything or everyone yet. The promise of Lady Styx still hangs in the background. Furthermore, as these characters get more paneltime and their stories get deeper it seems as though Giffen’s long-range story might come together soon. I just hope it congeals a little faster as two issues of exposition have left me wanting to see these characters exert a little cooperation and maybe face a legitimate, non-manufactured threat.