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Less Than Heroes
David Yurkovich
Top Shelf
Graphic Novel
151 pages
$14.95 USD
ISBN: 1-891830-51-1

Threshold is a group of four super heroes -- Cosmopolitan, Meridian, Malevolence and Recoil. They have been contracted by the mayor of Philadelphia to fight super criminals, but the city of brotherly love isnt exactly a Mecca of criminal masterminds...yet. Soon, there will be a bit of a migration, as some of New Yorks toughest criminals -- Mosaic, Letter Head, Lady Locke and more decide to lie low and hide from New York's elite super hero team. There is also a government conspiracy playing in the back ground...a Shadow NASA was set up, training men to go much, much further than the moon...and what comes back may be beyond the government's power to control. No one thinks Threshold is up to the challenge...and they may be right, but Threshold will give it their all.

I fell in love with the team in just a few moments. They are very endearing...in the introduction, you get a lot of their personality. They are very flawed. Cosmo begins the introduction, focusing it on him, but is quickly reminded by Meridian -- the sole woman of the team, she's extremely sensible and smart, and is, in some ways, the leader -- that there are others. The into keeps getting interrupted, once by their need for snacks. How can you not like a group of people who try so hard to be heroic, yet are filled with small, interesting details -- Recoil is obsessed with teeth and dreams of being the ADA spokesperson, Meridian writes adorable little kid's books.

The anti heroes are just as interesting as the heroes. They bicker, the Ice Machine, in particular, is the creator of very bad puns. One of the most innovative characters was made from a combination of black magic and a stamp album, which he is determined to fill with new souls.

While there is a very strong comedy aspect, it still has a very serious edge. The idea seems to be to both satirize elements of the super hero genre while making it realistic. Perhaps satire is too strong a word...there is a sense of respect and kindness, and you don't feel like Yurkovich is making fun of it to be cruel. The comedy plays well, showing up some of the sillier aspects of the super hero genre while leaving the things about it that are good. The story becomes a smart tale about people doing their best, despite their flaws, despite their failings, to do what's right. This means you have some moments of comedy, but you also have excitement, as you wonder if they will be able to pull things off and save the city in time...because it's no longer inevitable that they triumph.

The art style also echoes this intent. Black and white, thicker lines, a little more angular than the super hero comics which are usually finely drawn, very correct, in color. It reminds us that this isn't your usual super hero comic while creating a very expressive style.

A smart, brilliant work.

Cindy Lynn Speer, is a reviewer for The Original Gotta Write Network

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