By: Keith Giffen (Writer), Scott Kolins, Andrei Bressan (Artists), David Curiel (Colorist)

The Story: Arkillo, Carol and Saint Walker get into the Tenebrian Dominion thanks to the help of Jediah Caul, a green lantern. In there, they find the harsh reality of this space sector on the planet called Tolerance.

The Review: Annual issues are not exactly the easiest kind of issues to review. The reason why they usually are is because of one thing: their purpose. An annual can be written for many reasons: it can be a celebration of everything the series stand for in a standalone tale that is usually inconsequential to the actual storyline, or it can be setup for something much larger in the work for the series.

Unfortunately, this annual is neither of those options, as it tries to be two things at once and fails at both. It tries to be about the New Guardians, yet it also tries to set up some important characters and information about the new ongoing from Keith Giffen, Threshold. Why it fails is very simple: the focus is never really well divided, providing us with neither enough information about the cast of Threshold, like Jediah Caul, but it also gives us only half of the New Guardians cast in a story that has not much purpose in their actual storyline. I doubt very much that Lady Styx will pop up in New Guardians anytime soon.

It’s not to say that absolutely everything is bad in this issue, as there are some good and intriguing tidbits of information here and there. I liked the explanation for how The Hunted game works and how the people of Tolerance perceive it. I also liked how Lady Styx is written as someone who has seen it all and how she explains some of the actions and events of Tolerance. When it comes to concepts and cosmic stuff, Keith Giffen can be very good.

Where he was quite bad, however, was in the character department. Most of the characters were either annoying, or lacking in depth. I never truly got the sense of who Jediah Caul is and why I should care for what actually happens to him. I also disliked the way Arkillo was written, as his actions can be summarized as this: be an incredible jerk with a liking for violence. True, it is kind of his characters traits, but here they seemed to be pushed to exuberance and made close to every scene with him looks the same. He threatens some people, those same people insults him a bit. Rinse and repeat. I also never got the feeling that Saint Walker was actually there. He never did much of anything in this issue, saying one line here and there and making a mistake. Except that, he was pretty much absent during the whole issue. This felt like he was a bit unnecessary for the whole issue, which is a shame, since he is a good character.

Unfortunately, there is another part of the issue where failure was present: the art. Not to say that Scott Kolins and Andrei Bressan did a terrible job, but there were some lacks in several panels that brought the issue down a bit. One of the major flaw of Kolins art is that it is sometime much too busy, with too much details crammed inside a single panel. The first page of the comic is a prime example of that, with screens, characters and dozens of smaller details all stuffed in a single panel, not allowing it to breathe or let us see everything clearly. It’s not to say that everything was bad, as some of the character designs and poses are well done, while the coloring by David Curiel was great, but there are too much of these busy panels in this issue.

Conclusion: This annual has an identity crisis, trying to be both the start of a new series and a worthy addition to the New Guardians title, but it fails on both terms. The art is okay, but it has several flaws that unfortunately bring it a little bit down.

Grade: C-

Hugo Robberts Larivière