By: Keith Giffen (Writer), Tom Raney, Phil Winslade, Scott Kolins (Artists), Andrew Dalhouse, John Kalisz (Colorists)

The Story: In The Hunted, Jediah Caul gets back his lantern battery as he prepares to save everyone from the situation they are in. In Larfleeze own backup, we get to see just how and why he has lost all of his stuff.

The Review: In a strange way, it is a good thing that I had decided not to review this title first, as I can now write it in knowledge that this title will meets its demise come August, in its 8th issue. While this does not influence the actual quality of this issue, it does mean that this kind-of transformed into an ongoing to a mini-series of some sort, as now Giffen will have to tie and conclude everything in three issues after this one.

Here, we get to see the fallout from what just happened to a good chunk of Tolerance, thanks to Brainiac. As the series had been built slowly in its inception, it has started to move much faster now, as we get to see bigger things happening, such as the death of certain characters and the accomplishment of certain goals first introduced a few issues earlier, one of them being the retrieval of Caul’s green lantern battery. It also has improved a bit in delivering the goods, so to speak, as we get plot advancement, twists, action and some actual goals for some characters. While it had been nice to see The Hunted and how it affects Tolerance as a game, the arrival of Brainiac did some good for this series.

However, while it did improve on several factors, there are still some weaknesses to this series, with the biggest one being a too big cast. Simply put, there are too many characters here, with some receiving a lot more focus than others, while not all of them are actually interesting. There is a scene with Stealth that opens the issue, a scene which does show some interesting bits, but it is very small and it does not do much of anything to give us reason to actually enjoy this character’s appearance. There is also the fact that we haven’t seen much of Blue Beetle, Star Hawkins or even those that helped Caul during his troubling entry in The Hunted. In fact, most of the issue is focused on K’rot, Jediah Caul, Adonis the game’s host and Brainiac. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, yet it does seem like a waste to develop an interesting situation with Jaime, only for us to be left in the dark two issues later with no idea just what happened to him after finding that New God. At least, the dialogue between K’rot and Caul is fun enough to provide entertainment while we wait for other situations to reveal themselves.

What is a bit less fun, though, would be the constant artist switch that started a few issues back with Tom Raney and Phil Winslade. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but I’ll be blunt: their styles are much too different to work together. While we get Raney who’s much better with characters than Winslade, we switch in the middle of the story to Winslade and his wildly different visual interpretation of these characters. Not that he draw them with a different design or anything, but his technique is so different than Raney, it becomes distracting and reduce a bit the enjoyment of the story as a result. Not that Winslade is a weak artist, as I believe he’s stronger than Raney when it comes to backgrounds, but he just does not works that well as the second artist. Thankfully, both of these artists have the same colorist, who manages to bring the same work to both their half with his excellent colorization of various energy effects. Andrew Dalhouse really does bring the more extraterrestrial effect with his work on lighting effect as he does amp up the exotic and various colors of all those lights from space.

However, there is also another story set in space in this issue, featuring the Agent Orange himself, Larfleeze. As the backup did its best to be funny and properly alike the greedy being, it also did provide some good fun as we followed the story of Larfleeze and his servant as they tried to get back his stuff. With the explanation of just how and why Larfleeze lost his treasure, we surprisingly get some tie-in to the Third Army storyline that went on in the Green Lantern part of the DCU as we learn just what happened to Sayd and what she did to Larfleeze. In a crazy way, it does bring a lot of things full circle and even manage to build up the fact that this backup will become a full-fledged ongoing next month. If Giffen manages to bring this level of humor, characterization and fun in an ongoing way, I will be happy to bring it to my pull-list.

Another reason why I would be happy to do so would be Scott Kolins and his busy panels full of vivid details. While his panels and his action scene can be somewhat chaotic sometimes, it seems that in this backup he managed to turn this into a great strength, as he brings the chaos yet centers it on Larfleeze. Another thing that works in his favor would be how he draws Larfleeze, as he succeeds in making him menacing, yet also funny in the spans of some mere pages. He is tall, skinny, yet you can believe that he can be an actual threat when he is drawn by Kolins. He may not be as well drawn as when he was first introduced by Philip Tan in Green Lantern, but he still looks pretty good here.

Part of the credit for the visual success should also be awarded to John Kalisz, using the large amount of orange here without washing away every other color in the issue. He also does succeed to bring out the more alien look of the bar they are in thanks to the colors on the background characters and the various techno babbles found in the backup.

The Conclusion: While this issue does manage to show off some of the inherent weaknesses of this series, it also does shows the strength of what really works, like some of its characters and the pace of the plot in both the backup and the main feature. While there may be some problem with the art in the main feature with the artist switch-up, it has none in the backup thanks to Kolins and Kalisz.

Grade: B-

Hugo Robberts Larivière