In Review: Jim Henson’s Beneath the Dark Crystal #2

This is a visual experience that must be seen.

The covers: A trio to track down if it’s your destiny to have them all. The Regular cover by Benjamin Dewey has Toolah atop a flying creature that’s passed through some clouds. She happily points the creature in the direction she wants to go. She looks good, the creature neat, and the colors very soothing. A lot of violet in this, but it works. Next is the Subscription cover by David Petersen which has the Chamberlain and one of the Mystics. Both creatures look in opposite directions, with the evil one looking to the right rubbing his hands in anticipation, and the Mystic to the left emitting a low chant. Behind the pair is a broken circular diagram and superimposed over both is a triangular graph. This is sensational. If one loves the film, and why would you be reading this comic if you didn’t?, this is a must-own cover. The final cover is the Variant by Lee Garbett. The Chamberlain gets a bust shot, turning slowly to the reader. His chest becomes a black line that shows silhouettes of Jen and Kira climbing upwards. Great art and terrific coloring. The lack of a pupil for the Chamberlain had me assuming he’d had his life essence drained from him. Overall grades: Regular B, Subscription A+, and Variant A 

The story: This is a split story from Adam Smith. A majority of the issue focuses on Thurma’s rising temper at Nita’s persistence that she should be the next queen of Mithra. The book opens with how Mithra was founded and then leads to these two characters needling one another, with Thurma’s rage obvious. The two journey to the Great Hall where something occurs that leaves one of the characters very unhappy. I can’t say much else about this pair without spoiling things. Suffice to say, it’s very cool and the cliffhanger good. Meanwhile, Toolah is unhappy with Kensho because she thought he had a plan as to where they were going. When she learns he hadn’t thought that far ahead she’s upset. Complicating matters are a pair of new characters who don’t endear themselves to either protagonist as they attempt to do something that would upset anyone. I like Danevay and Aiyana and I’m hoping that this pair stick around for a while. Their addition to the story allows Kensho to achieve his goal much more quickly and should stop Toolah’s complaints, though she still has doubts about these newly found Gelflings. Smith does a good job moving between both stories, changing locales just as something important occurs, which has the reader wanting to turn the page quickly. Overall grade: A

The art: Alexandria Huntington’s artwork, which includes the colors, is staggeringly beautiful. Every scene in Mithra is gorgeous. The opening three pages are a history of how the kingdom was formed and it looks amazing. I love how Huntington portrays the fiery nature of the land with hot blobs of debris flying about on the opening pages. The colors are delightful reds, oranges, and yellow that one would think would overpower the images, but they do not. I like how the lines on characters are not black but colors, giving all the scenes in this location a warm feel, and I say this without trying to make a pun. Black lines appear when the story turns to the present in Mithra, but notice it doesn’t appear for characters’ flaming heads. The colors make the heat glow wonderfully. The setting that’s entered on Page 6 also has some wonderful blues and violets, marking a stark contrast from the previous pages. A bigger change is when the story moves to Thra, where greens, violets, and blues rule. The blues are elegant as they give the setting a cool flavor. I like that Toolah stands out every time she appears because of her golden hair. It’s almost as if she doesn’t belong in this setting, because Kensho blends in with the setting so well, with his white hair gaining a blue sheen. Burnt reds appear only twice in this locale and that’s for the background to heighten the actions that occur on Pages 11 and 12. I don’t know what the colors are that are used for Danevay and Aiyana’s hair but they’re fantastic. It appear to be a dark blue-green with blue highlights and it’s beautiful. 18 is a full-paged splash and it shows some stunning statues that feature some impressive colors. It’s epic and jaw-dropping. Huntington’s art is a strong reason to pick this series up. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Narration, dialogue, yells, sounds, whispers, and the tease for next issue were created by Jim Campbell. I like that the history that opens this issue is given a unique font to show that it’s narration. I always like when letterers make the narration and dialogue different fonts. The yells are fairly big, making their utterances strong. The sounds come from Bohrtog and they’re great. I’m hoping that this creature gets more to say in upcoming issues because when he speaks it’s memorable. There’s a moment where two characters speak in low voices, practically whispers, and it gives the intimacy and secrecy between the characters a good layer of reality. The final there words of the issue are very elegant, making this story seem like a fairy tale. I’m liking what Campbell is doing. Overall grade: A

The final line: The characters’ goals take some interesting turns due to unforeseen obstacles. The story is very enjoyable with it split between two protagonists and the visuals are gloriously sumptuous. The art is great, capturing the whimsy of this universe, and the coloring is off the charts incredible. This is a visual experience that must be seen. A highly enjoyable read. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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