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Threshold #8 – Review

Keith Giffen (Writer), Tom Raney, Phil Winslade, Timothy Green II, Joseph Silver (Artists), Andrew Dalhouse, Hi-Fi (Colorists)

The Story: The Hunted is cancelled and most of the players have to deal with that, Caul included. In the backup, Star Hawkins discovers just who the first player is and why she’s still alive.

The Review: Well, this was different. With the way the story had been going on, I had no idea how Keith Giffen could actually conclude everything and how he would close this very title. I did not have much hope for this to be satisfying, yet there are actually some nice ideas in there that are actually fun.

Going meta-fictional in the very last issue, the show in which Jediah Caul and all the characters takes part is cancelled, which prompts a lot of meta-jokes from the cast and the book itself. Dealing with how the book tried very hard to put new stories and how it accommodated a lot of changes during its tenure, it’s hard not to chuckle a bit during some of the scenes of the book in which Giffen himself seems to admit that he cannot actually conclude this series on a high note and that some subplots will never be resolved. The Blue Beetle scene especially is hilarious, with the author explaining via his characters and the context of the cancelled show why he had been included to begin with.

However, as much as Giffen tries to combine the literal and figurative elements with a touch of metafiction, it does not make it a particularly satisfying ending. Those who had become invested in the actual conflict and the setting will not find a lot to like in this different portrayal found here. In the end, many of the characters developed and their situations don’t add up to much as the story instead focus on Caul and the ephemeral nature of entertainment and fiction.

Ironically, as the series close, the problem of disparity between Phil Winslade and Tom Raney is very much subdued as there are less cosmic elements at play here, making the character work with the poses and the expressions rather less sharp in terms of differences. There are still some key differences in terms of style, yet it concord much better now that the issue focus on smaller environment and with characters speaking together instead of big space action and sci-fi settings. Tom Raney is still better when it comes to expressiveness, yet Winslade does action well enough to bring his strength here without putting his weaknesses to the front as well.

The color work by Andrew Dalhouse here is also perfectly acceptable. It is by no mean a tour-de-force, yet he does many thing very competently, bringing a certain mix of office colors with a sci-fi tone, adding colors that would not work completely with the typical workplace known for bureaucracy. It’s an efficacious look, yet it does not impress nor does it leave any strong last look toward the book.

The backup, meanwhile, had started strong yet fumbles quite hard toward its end as it tries to be two things at once. It tries too hard to be funny as it also tries to be a serious addition to the setting Giffen had created. While some of the revelations by Lady Styx are interesting and add to the whole affair, the constant bickering and attempts at humor by Star Hawkins and Ilda distracts from the seriousness too much. Combine this with an ending that does connect in a smart way to the main narrative, yet does nothing in term of closing Star Hawkings role in the story and you have a jumbled and disappointing backup.

It’s a shame, though, as the art of Timothy Green II and Joseph Silver is quite apt, brining in a multitude of elements in each panel with what seem relative ease. The backgrounds are vivid, the action strong and the movements fluid, yet there is a certain weakness to it as well: expressivity. Most of the characters aren’t showing their emotions well, which makes them a bit too subdued in that aspect. Still, beside that weakness, the art there is strong. The coloring is quite good too, with a brightness and diversity that pops out of every panel as Hi-Fi really work well with the artists.

The Conclusion
: The metafictional ending to this series is a valiant effort in bringing humor to the cancellation of the title, yet it does nothing in order to provide a true and satisfying conclusion to the multiple plot threads inserted in the book. Add this to a rather chaotic backup and this creates a rather funny, though ultimately unsatisfying conclusion to Threshold.

Grade: C

Hugo Robberts Larivière

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7 Responses

  1. I do mean the old series, which I love. It’s an obscure old favorite of mine that I still like to re-read every few years, along with some other minor lost classics from the era like Nth Man, DP7 and Xombi. I can’t say it was groundbreaking in any particular way, but it was far more than merely competent – it was a terrifically fun series with great humor, character work and story arcs and excellent artwork from Morales. The series started strong and stayed consistent, only weakening briefly in the home stretch when Morales was occasionally replaced on art by Chas Truog for a couple of issues.

    Frankly, I am still bummed that one was cancelled. I understand IDW did a reprint so that stuff is available again – definitely worth picking up. It is vastly better than the concurrent sister-run of the D&D comic by Mishkin and Duursema (which had a couple of solid stretches, but some really terrible stuff also – really only the storyline with the Beholder was particularly good, I think it was written by Grubb), or the best-forgotten Spelljammer.

    • I had a good experience with the Dungeons and Dragons series by John Rogers, so I was looking for more fun series along the line of that one. I’ll have to take a look at that one then. Thanks for the info and the recommendation.

    • Just when on and tried Forgotten Realms by buying the first classic collection by IDW. It’s surprisingly good. The characters are likeable, the D&D aspect true to the game, yet easy enough to grasp and the art isn’t bad at all.

      • I actually thought Rags Morales’s stuff was very good on this series – his facial acting really adds to the character-building and he creates very distinct looks for each of the main players. As I said, the series only gets a little weaker in the final third when Rags starts to miss some issues. Also, I don’t know if the various cross-over annuals are included in the collections, but those are kind of crap in the typical annual/cross-over way. Lower your expectations for that stuff, or even avoid it if it isn’t collected.

        Hope you enjoy the remainder and glad to turn someone on to the series.

  2. Amusing, but not as clever as it wanted to be. I thought Forgotten Realms did this much better in an inventory story years ago.

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