Keith Giffen (Writer), Phil Winslade, Tom Raney, Timothy Green II (Artists), Hi-Fi, Andrew Dalhouse (Colorists)
The Story: Jediah has to do his duty and tries to save the bottled city by getting it back to Tolerance as some of the players on the board make their move. In the backup, Star Hawkins get closer to the answer to the mystery of just who is the first player of ”The Hunted”.
The Review: I’m not exactly sure what to make of this comic. Is it a building story that unfortunately got cancelled and so need to rush things out? Was it just one with too many players in it, resulting in an unfocused story? Perhaps it merely was an experiment to see if Keith Giffen could revitalize the cosmic side of DC comics, diversifying from the Lantern focus it always had?
In a way, it seems like a little bit from all these options here, which is unfortunate, as there are several elements here that could very well be exploited in order to create something expansive and interesting. There are some characters that had some genuine growth during these seven issues, which had been due mostly to the fact that there was a spotlight on them. Jediah Caul is a perfect example of this, as he was first just some rogue trying to save his life, until we got some explanation why he was a Green Lantern, which made him immediately a much better character, as we had some more perspective on the character.
This makes it all the more unfortunate then that all those other characters just aren’t as interesting as Jediah. I have close to no idea why I should actually care about Stealth, Blue Beetle or Lonar, as we have only seen glimpses of them during all these issues. This feeds a bit the first theory written earlier that Threshold was supposed to be a longer ongoing, building on every issue in order to create familiarity with these characters in order for them to develop. Sure, we knew who Blue Beetle was and Captain K’Rot was mostly used as a comic relief, yet those characters never had an actual chance to shine and this issue is not different in any way. Basically, we are thrown a huge number of characters that we know close to nothing about, that each have their own plot going on with them, yet we can’t be sure if they will ever pass from the ”scenery decoration” state rather than become actually interesting characters with a past and proper motivations. Considering the fact that the next issue is the final one, it seems unlikely.
There is also another thing that is missing rather much and it would be the plot. Even though the exploration of the society living on Tolerance and how ”The Hunted” game compose their economy, the game itself never really connected itself to a coherent plot, merely serving as the setting. Sure, we had glimpses of some of the players trying to gather some of the key prisoners in order to forge a rebellion, yet like the cast itself, it never received enough of a focus to make it the main direction of the book.
Direction being, of course, the key word that summarize quite well the principal problem that had plagued the series for a long time. Like in every issue, Giffen shares the spotlight on many characters, as he moves them forward toward an unknown destination, one that he does not share with the readers. As such, we know nothing about what was the eventual point of the actions some of the characters take here. Jediah Caul’s rise in popularity, Lonar and his attack on some of the big figures of the game, Blue Beetle mere presence, Stealth and the other players are all there, yet these things never connect to give us something to latch onto.
Even the art does not seem to wish for us to care at that point. While Tom Raney and Phil Winslade do have talents, they have no chemistry together as their pages clash with each other. The look for some of the characters are downright different in some instances, like Captain K’Rot who is just much more expressive and detailed when Raney draws him (which is something that can be said about close to every character actually). Winslade has a much rougher style, which works very well when it comes to atmosphere, yet his characters just aren’t matching to the cleaner lines and rounder shapes of Raney.
At the least, the colorization of Andrew Dalhouse is pretty good, giving us the alien vibe this title need. It’s nice to see some of the weirder mix of colors in some panels, which does give the sci-fi tone the book the story gives out.
However, there is also a backup feature in this book, which is, for better or worse, much better than the main feature. What makes it so is the fact that instead of a bunch of characters, we get to follow Star Hawkins and Ilda, a private detective and his robot assistant with a design and the mind of his ex-wife. The backup actually possess exactly what The Hunted lacks, as it is a story featuring only two characters who have a clear purpose, a past, a degree of interaction with each other and an actual goal, which in this case consist of finding who the first Hunted player is.
The discovery of how life on Tolerance might looks like actually takes advantage of the setting in order to tell a story and use the game as a source of mystery, which the main feature is unable to do. As Star and Ilda advance in their mystery, we are given plenty of humour, which not only gives us more insight on their character, but also does entertain in a way that does not distract too much from the main plot.
The backup is also featuring Timothy Green II, an artist that seems to have fun doing this story, giving us big action, plenty of interesting designs for many type of aliens and panels filled to the brim with details that are just insane. His backgrounds are just great, as are his character expressions. All of this do contribute greatly to both the alien and sci-fi aspect of the comic that makes this a joy visually.
Hi-Fi also does contribute to this visual chaos in a way that enhance the effect for us readers. Choosing a dirtier approach to the colors, he goes into degradation rather than contrast in several moments, which works to the story advantage when he do goes with a contrast.
The Conclusion: Although the backup is very solid, the main feature does not shine very brightly thanks to its lack of direction and focus on certain characters, which isn’t helped by the severe difference in style between Tom Raney and Phil Winslade.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière