In Review: Jim Henson’s Beneath the Dark Crystal #6

Action, angst, and two familiar characters return!

The covers: Gelfling Toolah nocks an arrow at an unseen foe. She looks furious as she’s about to release death. Behind her is Kensho who is wide-eyed in shock and what/whom she’s aiming at. He holds a pod person in his arms and a good dozen of the wee folk are before the Gelflings, looking fearfully at something before them. This entire scene is set within a ravine that looks as though it’s just below Aughra’s home. This is great and the colors are cool because the sun’s light is barred by the landscape. Excellent Regular cover by Benjamin Dewey. The Preorder cover by David Petersen is another frontpiece I just could not pass on. It continues the tan imagery of a Skeksis and a Mystic. Facing the right is SkekOk the Scroll-Keeper and before him, looking to the left, is the urRu urAc the Scribe. Both characters look fantastic and behind the antagonist is a sketch of a circular symbol. Overlapping the pair of characters is a white line of a constellation. I’ve loved these Variant covers from the get-go and love this one. This is the cover I chose to accompany this review. Overall grades: Regular A and Preorder A+. 

The story: The siege is continuing on the jail where Kensho has been captured by Trunk. Dihnmor is helping to motivate the crowd by guiding them with his songs. While he’s doing this, the twins and Toolah are in the back, trying to gain entrance there. As the twins work their mojo to blow the door, Toolah begins to lament that Kensho wouldn’t be in such dire straits if she had stayed with him. The twins try to buck her up, but it’s not working. Within the jail, Kensho’s glow grows brighter and it’s caused Trunk to fall to his knees in admiration. The poor Gelfling’s state is horrible, but in his mind (or is it his mind?) something else is happening. He finds himself in a location with an individual he’s seen before when he was wounded. What’s said between these two characters is excellent. Meanwhile, underground, Thurma makes a confession to her newfound friend Tumbly, who’s not liked by Nita. The pair of princesses have yet to build the glass castle and continue to train. When they take a pause after a long day, Thurma finds Nita doing something surprising. Above ground, action is taken and something terrible is happening to a hero on 15. Someone’s hiding place is revealed on 18 that will create further conflict in the future. The final page from Adam Smith is a gasp worthy reveal with a character that I’m happy to see, but terrified of what he may bring to this tale. Plenty of action above ground, while below drama increases. This was a very engaging installment. Overall grade: A-

The art: This series has had two very distinct styles from artist Alexandria Huntington: the Gelflings saga above and the fire people below. With this issue going into Kensho’s mind another style is revealed and it’s just as gorgeous as the other two. The first page has a panel looking down upon the chaos occurring outside the jail. Huntington then pulls into Dihnmor who has a wonderfully mischievous smile as he prances about with his lute, egging on the crowd and using the instrument to bop guards down. The twins and Toolah look incredibly pained with the former’s speech adding to their obvious worry for their friend. The transition between Pages 3 and 4 is outstanding: Toolah is looking through a crack in the door on 3 and on 4 the action that’s occurring inside is shown. It’s on 5 that the new style is revealed and it’s beautiful. The borders to the panels on this page give this a classic retro 1970’s feel and it’s awesome. The character that was revealed on the top of 6 was a shock that had me smiling uncontrollably. Tumby continues to be a delightfully looking character and is perfectly suited to accompany Thurma. The action in the fourth panel on Page 8 cannot help but make the reader smile in delight, which is a gloriously opposite action of the receiver of the action. Just great! The wizened old man that helps the two characters continues to look amazing with only a slight smile warming his face. Pages 10 and 11 is a double-paged splash montage of what Nita and Thurma are doing to build the glass castle. It’s amazing. The smoke on 15 is a simple element, but Huntington makes it look like a nightmare brought to life. The arrival at the bottom of this page is wonderful. The final page is a full-paged splash and it took my breath away. I looked at the image before I read the text and it undeniably intensifies the dialogue that’s spoken. Wow! I can’t wait to see what Huntington gets to do with this character! Overall grade: A

The colors: Completing the images spectacularly are the colors by Laura Langston. The dark night of the opening action is punctuated by the bright colors of the Gelflings’ wings. Dihnmor’s yellow face draws the reader’s attention against the violet background. Notice when the character takes down a foe with his instrument, the background goes an exciting yellow to show the intensity of the action. The third panel on Page 4 briefly lets the reader experience the brilliance of Kensho’s light in spectacular fashion. The colors that are used for the scenes within his mind are very pale, yet extremely colorful, successfully transferring the reader to a different plane of existence. The character that’s shown on 6 darkens the environment, but in a familiar way. The colors underground continue to be gorgeous with their neons and striking combinations. The orange hair of the leads is so awesome, especially when contrasted with their bright yellow skin. The colors truly kick into overdrive on Pages 10 and 11: combined with the art, this is absolutely staggering for its beauty. Dark colors bring the mood down on the final page, but the individual they are upon complete him. I love what Langston brings to this book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Jim Campbell creates this issue’s text which includes dialogue, a song, two characters’ unique speech font, Tumby’s speech, off panel narration and transmissions, sounds, and the three word tease for next issue. I really like that the song that’s sung is different from the narration and transmissions. Campbell could have had all three in an italicized script, but instead has the song’s letters tilt forward, while the other two are at the more familiar tilt. It’s just a little touch, but it’s noticeable and appreciated. I am in LOVE with the font for the two characters that talk to Kensho in his mind. It’s ancient, classy, and utterly cool. It gives the characters an epic quality to their speech, which they both deserve. I also like the final three words to the issue, giving the tale a fairy tale feel. Overall grade: A

The final line: Action, angst, and two familiar characters return! The story has got plenty of action and drama, though two characters’ story seem stuck in place. The visuals are beautiful and are worth the cover price alone. With the arrival of two iconic characters I’m on fire for the next issue. 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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