In Review: Jim Henson’s Beneath the Dark Crystal #7

Kensho has a breakthrough, while Nita and Thurma's relationship takes a dramatic turn.

The covers: A pair to pick up if that’s what the Mystics want of you. The Main cover by Benjamin Dewy has Jen and a Fireling touch palms before the Dark Crystal. Behind this smiling pair several landstriders move across a field. Above them is Toolah’s dragon which grins down at them. Above all is Aughra with her arms spread wide as the suns begin to align. Cool frontpiece that would be a good poster, print, or tee shirt. Good colors too with the whites balancing out the violets and yellows. The Preorder cover is another fabulous illustration by David Petersen. SkekEkt is facing the left, while before him facing right is urUtt the Weaver. Behind them is a circular rune and atop both in a white outline are several triangles. I’ve loved all of these previous variant covers by Petersen and I like this one, too. Overall grades: Main A and Preorder A+

The story: The Chamberlain stands before Kensho. “Monsters are what those who reign…call those they have defeated. Tell me, Kensho…are you defeated?” The Gelfling says he is, but the Mystic says he is not. The Chamberlain’s words reveal that Kensho is in the prism “…where I pushed him.” Meanwhile underground, Firelings Nita and Thurma have chosen to breach the waterfall from above, but, as the Ancient One tells them, they have to construct a glass bridge by pulling dirt from Mithra. Both are doing well until one loses her concentration, forcing the other to make a choice on Page 6 that leads to quite the cliffhanger. Kensho’s four friends are then visited in Adam Smith’s tale, where they try to chart their next course of action while Kensho is unconscious. The story within the prism is extremely interesting because it focuses on Kensho’s inability to find confidence. The reaction on 11 is great. The solution to the cliffhanger is smart and I enjoyed that it led to another predicament. 15 has several moments for the supporting cast to spotlight their characters. Pages 16 and 17 have no text but are easily understandable, though I wonder how much time has passed. There are five stops and they couldn’t have been done in a day. Also when the story goes back underground no time has passed, so I have some concerns with time. There’s a sinister moment on Page 20 that has me questioning someone’s motivations. The final two pages return to a familiar locale from the film which features a familiar face. Overall grade: B+

The art: Alexandria Huntington does a great job with the visuals. The Chamberlain is a frightening visage and the Mystic is definitely a calming visual presence. The guilt and horror that the Skeksis produces on Kensho is excellent. The ancient one that’s guiding Nita and Thurma in their quest looks awesome in every panel he’s in. The joy on Thurma’s face in the second panel on page 5 is outstanding and the design of the creature in the fourth panel is epic. The last panel on 6 is an exciting moment and one that signals a change between the characters. I was impressed with the number of characters and the setting that Huntington was able to fit into the top panel on 7. The shape of the fourth panel on 10 wonderful. I also have to give a shout out to the final panel on the page: I’ve always liked when artists have elements in a panel that extend beyond their borders and that’s case with the page’s final image. It just makes the situation seem more dire. The actions on 12 are exciting. I like the idea behind 16 and 17, but there’s too much blank space in the background image — I expected it to be more detailed. I really like the design of the individual encountered on 19. The location on 21 took me back to 1982 and the character that appears on the final page solidified that feeling. The last page is a full-paged splash and has the individual recognizable, but still different from the film. I did like the celestial objects behind this person. Overall grade: A

The colors: This is a truly impressive element of the book. Laura Langston’s colors give this book a fanciful flair. The Chamberlain is wearing the same colors he had in the film, but notice how he’s always against a black background making his every move sinister. The colors underground continue to be stunning; the sky, the glass, the characters, and the settings are gorgeous with their bright shades. Don’t think for a moment that the upper world is getting the short stick, because Page 7’s first panel is a beautifully colored work that introduces all the supporting cast. Seeing this location in daylight is equally splendid. And though it might seem a little thing, I really like the slight discoloration on the left side of Kensho’s face to remind the reader of the violence inflicted upon him last issue. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Skeksis and Mystic speech, dialogue, yells, sounds, and the three word tease for next issue are crafted by Jim Campbell. The design of the classic characters’ speaking font increases their power. Each is different from the other, but both look old, magical, and impressive. There are a few outbursts in this issue and their size and thickness inform the reader how they should be heard. One sound is key to a plot point and it looks perfect. Overall grade: A

The final line: Kensho has a breakthrough, while Nita and Thurma’s relationship takes a dramatic turn. It’s fun to see a Skeksis and a Mystic in this series, if only for a few pages. The artwork is as fanciful as the film and the colors are beyond extraordinary. Even the lettering adds to the otherworldliness of this book when two characters speak. 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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