Threshold #1

"Threshold" #1 is a strange title; it's aimed at the outer-space characters of the DC Universe, with Keith Giffen, Tom Raney and Scott Kolins tackling its two features. Despite having a wealth of characters and situations to choose from, "Threshold" #1 doesn't feel like it's the sort of comic that demands a return for the next installment.

The main feature by Giffen and Raney is "The Hunted," where people in the Tenebrian Dominion are the targets in a manhunt -- if you catch any of the people designated "criminals," you get a massive reward. Giffen introduces several characters who are all on the run, trying to stay hidden before the local population assaults them in search of quick cash. Before "Threshold" #1 was even published, it was already getting attention because a future issue will be revamping the kid's comic character of Captain Carrot into a slightly more mature version. In "The Hunted," there are already two secondary characters that are also revamps, in the form of a new Ric Starr ("Space Ranger") and Stealth ("L.E.G.I.O.N."). Along with the lead character Jediah Caul (a powerless Green Lantern), they appear to be the core of the title. While I like the idea of "Threshold" serving as a repository for all sorts of re-introductions of these forgotten characters, the problem is that none of them so far seem that interesting.

Now as it so happens, Caul was introduced earlier in the month in "Green Lantern: New Guardians Annual" #1, but there's nothing in "Threshold" #1 to point readers in that direction. Reading strictly "Threshold" #1 as a new reader would, all we've ended up with so far is a bunch of grumpy characters. I'm not saying they need to be likable, but so far there isn't a hook that will make readers think, "I want to see more of this character."

Raney's art is at least fun, in a slightly exaggerated manner. With wide-eyed open expressions, none of his characters have a poker face and that's part of the fun. He's definitely enjoying drawing some of the alien creatures in the backgrounds -- I think he's at his best when drawing the slightly bizarre -- and when it comes to crowded streets he's your man. Right now, it's Raney's art that is the selling point for "The Hunted." The basic idea behind it is one we've seen before, after all, but Raney makes it visually jump out at you.

The backup feature stars Larfleeze, the sole Orange Lantern powered by the emotion of greed. Giffen and Kolins give us a slightly goofy, over-the-top story where Larfleeze tells his version of an origin story. Larfleeze was always a comic figure (if still dangerous) in "Green Lantern" and Giffen's script continues that vein. He's added in a new version of the villain Pulsar Stargrave to serve as a straight man to bicker with Larfleeze, and that's a good move. Larfleeze talking to himself for pages on end would be painful, and Stargraze's eye-rolling and general disdain is the perfect counterpoint to Larfleeze's full of himself attitude. Kolins has slightly tweaked his style again, providing a strangely stringy and elongated look. It's sparse in places, but the exaggerated manner fits the script; watching Larfleeze's face bug out works because of the slightly silly nature of the character. It's funny because the back-up feature feels like a bit of an afterthought for "Threshold," and yet it's the one that works better. Even then, though, I'm not sure how much Larfleeze one can take; he's a character that works best in small doses, and this back-up hasn't convinced me otherwise.

"Threshold" #1 is an all right comic, but I do feel that as a first issue it's missing the boat a bit. Neither story makes me dying to read a second chapter; they're both reasonable but for the moment I feel like they're lacking that extra spark that will make a reader add this to their subscription list. Giffen's been more reliable in the past so I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that "Threshold" #2 could turn things around quickly. But for now, it's not the blockbuster starting that a new series needs in this crowded market.

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