Threshold #3

The introductory page of "Threshold" #3 doesn't do much to enhance the experience Keith Giffen, Tom Raney, Phil Winslade and Scott Kolins try to build as much as it simply adds more noise to the cacophony of this issue. While assembling a worthwhile cast and story is the type of thing Giffen exceled with during his time on "Justice League," it's just hollow and unrewarding here. He's taken characters from all over the place, shoved them together and put a deceptively simplistic plot around them. The end result is a bunch of characters in a story that I really don't care very much about.

I've been reading "Threshold" mostly for the appearance of Blue Beetle, as Jaime Reyes is one of my favorite DC characters from "One Year Later" in 2005. Unfortunately, as depicted here, Jaime is less in control of his scarab and more out of control to drive conflict and chaos. Giffen threads in the other characters he has dropped into this title around that, but hasn't really given much purpose or passion to Jediah Caul, K'Rot, Pig-Iron, Stealth or the other half-dozen characters filling the first twenty pages of each issue of "Threshold." The biggest character moments of the series to date, quite honestly, come on the final two pages of "Threshold" #3 where Giffen crawls into Jaime's thoughts and brings in a guest appearance from Lonar. From there, the flashlight of hope is lit again, but there's just way too much darkness and debris to see anything beyond.

The story itself is hamstrung by the art, which goes from decent to hideous to hopeful. It's a shame that the characters cannot be individually assigned to creators like at an animation studio. Tom Raney starts out the issue quite strongly and consistently to what he has established, but midway through his work melts into something not unlike middle school sketchbook work before Winslade's strong artwork finishes off the lead tale. Winslade's work with Jaime Reyes and Lonar is impressive and strong, but not so good on the first pages he handles, which happen to feature K'Rot and Pig Iron and an as-yet-unidentified feline female. Back to the concept of the animation studio, I'd rather see cover artist Howard Porter tackle K'Rot and have Raney draw Stealth, Caul and the numerous other characters I've already lost interest in.

It's a shame, really, as I tend to gravitate towards books set in major universes, but slightly off the main trail. "Threshold" as a concept has potential, but it needs a sabbatical to figure out how to utilize that potential. "Threshold" #3 simply confirms that I'm just not that interested in some of the new avenues DC is pursuing. For now, it's just moderately familiar properties and concepts sharing only tangential connectivity. Each half-formed concept needs more space to grow, find its voice and become interesting. Giffen wasn't fighting this battle with "O.M.A.C." or "Doom Patrol," but he's certainly losing the battle here.

The Larfleeze backup spins its wheels a bit, expanding what passes for the Orange Lantern's supporting cast by adding Branx Rancor, a cross between one of the human-sized full-body Muppets and Lobo. Except this character is extremely top heavy and hot pink, dressed in purple with spring green highlights. Come to think of it, he looks a bit like the monster created by Arnold Drake and Winslow Mortimer for the old DC series "Stanley and His Monster." Whatever the connection is, I can't help but think Giffen wanted to use Lobo (which might have been a better fit). How this story has found enough interest to warrant leaping to an ongoing series is beyond me.

Perhaps there will be some reward to be found in the team up between the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle and Lonar, but the fuse has burnt pretty far for me with "Threshold" #3. I'm a dozen bucks on characters that can't even compel me to remember their names. The only thing that could truly save it would be for these characters to find some purpose, some consistency and some great art. Until that happens, I'm pretty darn sure I can spend $3.99 some other way.

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