In Review: Jim Henson’s Beneath the Dark Crystal #8

A threat is revealed and a countdown to disaster begun.

The cover: Two very different covers to enchant you to purchase. Fan favorite Aughra is at the Mystic’s location on the Regular cover by Benjamin Dewey. She holds her hands outward seemingly to catch sunlight that comes from above or off the massive three crystals that have now grown in the enclosure. I love the way she looks, the crystals, and the setting looks just like its screen counterpart. An excellent job. The Preorder cover by David Petersen is another combination of a Skeksis and an urRu, this time featuring urNol in the foreground facing the left and skekNah behind him facing the right, with both atop a mystical symbol. I love that both characters’ eye patches are visible, making their identities easy to discern. The detail on this cover, and all previous from Peterson, is staggering. This frontpiece looks aged because of the tan and gray colors used. Just amazing. This, and all the previous, need to be posters, prints, and tee shirts. Overall grades: Regular A and Preorder A+

The story: Thurma is frustrated because she doesn’t know what to do. Luckily, she gets inspiration from little Tumby, who places a empty glass over his head and goes sailing along the water safely. Thurma wakes Nita to tell her they need to work together to build the glass castle to help their people. not simply to become the queen. Taking her hand she leads Thurma to the massive waterfall. Meanwhile up above, Aughra’s response to Kensho using his name causes division among this allies. Dihnmor is the first to leave, stating that all who live in the castle use others. “We are all just a means to an end for them if you allow it to be so.” Twins Aiyana and Danevay follow him. Toolah tries to keep the group together, but with them gone even she grows frustrated with Kensho and leaves. Adam Smith creates some solid parallelism with this tale, with Thurma trying to keep her only friend to achieve her ends, while Kensho can’t keep his to achieve what he wants. What Thurma and Nita find on Page 11 is surprising and what it does to one of the characters on 14 foreshadowing trouble. Speaking of trouble, a former character’s true intentions are revealed, bonding the women even more with them now sharing a common goal. Poor Kensho, though, just can’t get himself together. Thankfully, Aughra sticks around to literally smack some sense into him. The book ends with an overdue cliffhanger that unites both storylines. This was a better than usual story for the Firelings achieving their goal and Kensho alone, beginning to heal himself. Plus, that ending — YES! Overall grade: A

The art: The visuals on this book are incredible. Alexandria Huntington gives a wonderful fantasy flair to the worlds above and below the surface of Thra. The designs of the characters are beautiful, with the Firelings being a particular standout, especially their constantly in motion flames from the tops of their heads. Even the backgrounds look beautiful, with the first page providing quick evidence of this with the cavern and the waterfall. Tumby is cuteness personified, if only overshadowed in size by they gorgeous Bohrtog. The full-paged splash on 3 is an outstanding visual that shows the epic scale of the location as well as the beauty of this setting. I like when Kensho’s party leaves the space he and Aughra are in it becomes noticeably empty, making his loss not only stated in the text but amplified considerably visually. The close-ups at the bottom of 7 are so cool! Page 11 is also a full-paged splash and reveals an object that’s obviously going to be important for the remainder of this series. I like the image, but the top half of the illustration is very empty; pulling in tighter to the characters would have made this more epic. Starting on 15 something is shown that is illustrated in a very unique way — this is awesome! It’s fairly clear to the reader, but still holds enough of a mystery in it to have the reader stop in their reading and pour over what’s shown. Huntington’s art is absolutely important for the reader to glean clues from what’s shown. The character that’s shown become horrific and I loved this slight change in his visuals. The book ends with another full-paged splash that I adored. Two characters have reunited, in a fashion, and just seeing this pair together in this image is worth paying the cover price. Overall grade: A+

The colors: A vital component of the artwork are the colors by Laura Langston which complete the visuals and add immensely to the incredible look of this book. Notice how the Firelings stand out against the violets of the cave. Tumbly’s gorgeous swirling green belly make him stand out. The dark emeralds for the twins’ hair make them pop against the rose background that amplifies their heated responses. The blues and violets on 8 and 9 are to die for. The pale background that Aughra and Kensho venture to resemble that from the film and it provides the perfect background colors to have the characters receive the reader’s full focus. Starting on Page 15 the colors create a vision that comes across as magical and mystical. When this vision becomes dominated by orange and yellow it is forbidding. I have to end with an incredible moment that ends the penultimate page with two characters’ eyes behind colored like their opposite. Just so cool. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Jim Campbell creates the text for this issue, including dialogue, sounds, and a conversation from a great distance. The sounds are a joy to come upon, with them matching actions or giving voice to the creatures of this universe. The conversation on 18 is frightening because it’s presented in italics. Normally this is done in comics when someone is communicating through mechanical means, but there are no machines capable of this on Thra. Seeing this font used for a character’s speech makes the speaker ominous. Overall grade: A

The final line: This series continues the saga begun by Jim Henson with an imaginative story and enchanting visuals. One protagonist is now alone and another is closer to their goal. A threat is revealed and a countdown to disaster begun. I love the story and am swept away by the visuals. 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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