In Review: Jim Henson’s Beneath the Dark Crystal #3

The visuals are incredibly strong on this tale set long after the film.

The covers: Three very cool, different frontpieces to get your hands on. The Regular cover by Benjamin Dewey features characters I’m assuming are Mithrans, but I haven’t seen anyone in this series look like these characters. The point of view is looking up at a character on their knees in utter joy, their hands clasped before them as if in prayer. A taller character of the same race stands before this character, placing their hands on the kneller’s head, creating a glow. Similar characters stand in the background, watching with joy on their faces. Who are these people? What’s going on? I have no clue. It’s pretty, but that’s, sadly, all I can say about this. The Preorder cover by David Petersen is a fantastic cover with tans on yellows featuring the General, whose name is SkekUng, looking to the left holding his staff, and, before him facing right, one of the Mystics, also holding a staff. Both characters have a gigantic rune behind them. I love everything about this and it was the cover I had to pick up. It’s also the cover I chose to accompany this review. The Variant cover by Lee Garbett features a head shot of one of the Mystics. I don’t know the name of this noble character, but it’s the one that wears the hat. The character is on a white cover with only a teal streak behind him to set him off. Very, very nice. Overall grades: Regular B-, Preorder A+, and Variant A

The story: A quick flashback to Thurma being tutored by her mother on how to create flame is broken when she is woken by Nita telling her it’s time that they begin their journey to build the Glass Castle. They run, each trying to show the other that she is more physically fit. Thurma is able to leap a gap quite well, while Nita is lucky to grasp the ledge and pull herself up. Just when Thurma feels the most confident in her abilities, she comes upon a setting that stops her and Nita in their tracks. Writer Adam Smith then moves to Kensho and Toolah, who are now accompanied by twins Danevay and Aiyana, on a quest to help people. The story moves back and forth between these groups. Both are establishing backstories for the leads, which will hopefully be pertinent to the main story. Thurma and Nita encounter a new character who has a skill they need. Several new characters are encountered in the second group, with one becoming key to Kensho and Toolah. The book ends with this pair off to find this man, while the book ultimately ends with a monstrous threat for Thurma and Nita. This was a decent read, going back and forth between both groups. However, it doesn’t seem as though either story progresses too far before cutting to the other group. I would have preferred one story develop further than each getting only a few pages before moving onto the others. This is a typical way to write a story, cutting to elsewhere at a high point of action, but it did get a little frustrating. The twins provide the only humor in the tale, which was welcome. How this chapter measures up as necessary to the series’ overall plot is questionable until further installments are read. Overall grade: B-

The art and colors: This book continues to look good, though there’s not much that resembles anything from the film that spawned this series. The layout on the opening page is beautiful with Alexandria Huntington creating some neat panels separated by flames. Colors on this page are so soothing, as they should be in a memory. Once Thurma is awake, the colors go much brighter with the fiery colors of orange and yellow dominating. The pages featuring the women running capture some solid action, with Thurma’s leap being great. The final panel on Page 5 is a neat tease for the full-paged splash on 6 which reveals a new setting to this series. There’s some funny visuals on 7 with a pair of eyes that are at the entrance to another new location. The twins are funny with their overboard physicalities, with the final panel on 8 really terrific. I love the reaction of the two characters in the opening page on 9 and the triumph of the character in the final panel on this page. The twosome that appear on 14 have excellent designs, with their appearances perfectly matching their dialogue and behaviors. I love the coloring of an object on 15 that will capture the reader’s attention as much as it does a character. The final panel on the next page has a really neat point of view, foreshadowing to the reader that this action will not be left unchallenged. 18 and 19 use different shades of violet to create the night and it’s absolutely gorgeous. The final panel of the issue features a new creature whose design is fantasically frightening and I’m looking forward to seeing what Huntington does next with this individual. Overall grade: A

The letters: Jim Campbell is the creator of the issue’s dialogue, sounds, an auditory recording, a quote, and the tease for next issue. Campbell’s work is very easy to read and I love that lower case letters are used for the auditory recording, giving it a very regal visual feel. The quote is in all caps italics, making it stand apart from the dialogue, giving it an elegant aura visually. The tease for next issue is very classical looking. I like how Campbell knows exactly where to make certain texts special looking. Overall grade: A

The final line: The visuals are incredibly strong on this tale set long after the film. The story is fine, split equally between both groups, but neither seems to progress too far before being interrupted by the other. How this installment’s importance plays into the entire series is unknown at this point. This is definitely readable, but it doesn’t go too far. Overall grade: B+

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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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