In Review: Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation #1

A worthy visit back into Jim Henson’s magical world.

The covers: Nine different covers for you to track down, if you don’t lose your way. The Regular cover by Fiona Staples has the Goblin King Jareth holding Toby in his lap as they look into a hand mirror. Within the glass is a blonde haired baby held by an unseen woman. This is an excellent image to use the characters from the film to introduce what this story will be about. I also really like the labyrinth border that surrounds the characters. Rebekah Isaacs is responsible for the Subscription cover which has Jareth looking into a globe and seeing a couple in a gondola in Venice. The hair on Jareth is great and the image in the orb is just as smart a tease as Staples’s cover had. Great coloring on this as well. The first Variant cover is by Laurent Durieux. This was a Mondo limited poster released in 2017. Luckily, fans can get their own copy of this as the cover for this issue. Resembling a movie poster, a tiny Sarah is about to enter a tilting wooden maze toy that’s on her desk. Surrounding the toy are several dolls and toys that feature in the film. Very clever and very cool. The Variant cover by Jill Thompson has Toby in his red and white striped pajamas surrounded by several of the creatures under Jareth’s control. The characters nicely pop on this cover due to the background being primarily white with tan splashes of color. I really like the inclusion of the text above the characters. Very nice. Bill Sienkiewicz’s Variant cover is cool and nightmarish. Sarah is on her knees looking skyward at the light that is falling on her. This image is inserted atop a detail of wall that is composed of several different paths creating a labyrinth. On the far right, set up like a totem pole, are images of Hoggle, Ludo, and the Wiseman. This really captures the fantasy elements of the film. The only cover of this collection I’m not fond of is the Fried Pie Exclusive by Tula Lotay. Jareth stands on the right before a gnarly black tree that holds the clock. He states, “You have 13 hours in which to solve the labyrinth.” This looks more like a sketch than a finished piece, with the character roughly created and the background contains irregular splashes of tan and orange. The lettering in his speech balloon is also scrawl-like, negating the elegance the character had in the film. Jareth’s owl persona takes the stage in this frontpiece to the ComicsPRO Exclusive by David Petersen. The owl sits before a clock that’s about to strike thirteen. The predator looks down upon a very detailed illustration of Venice at night. Every element of this is exceptionally illustrated, with the maze for the sky subtle and cool. The coloring is also brilliant. This should be a print. The Emerald City Comic Con Exclusive cover by Benjamin Dewey is perhaps my favorite cover simply because it has characters on it that most closely resemble those in the film. Albert Tyton holds Maria closely as they look upon something unseen that has his brow dropping and her face in shock. They are standing upon a tremendous maze that lies beneath the waters of Venice. Behind the pair are the many different familiar faces of the goblins from the film. This is outstanding and the colors perfection. Try as I might, I couldn’t find the WonderCon Exclusive cover by Ramon K. Perez. I’ll just have to check it out when I go to this convention in three weeks. Overall grades: Regular A, Subscription A-, Durieux Variant A-, Thompson Variant A, Sienkiewicz Variant A, Fried Pie Exclusive D+, ComicsPRO Exclusive A, and Emerald City Comic Con Exclusive A+

The story: This is a great origin tale by Simon Spurrier. The book opens with Sarah trapped in the Oubliette. One of the goblins states, “She’ll never give up.” Jareth tells the little creatures otherwise and begins to laugh, after telling his minions to do the same. While everyone is guffawing, the goblin, named Beetleglum, returns to Toby, who’s supposed to be sleeping. Entering the child’s room he finds Jareth already there. The Goblin King picks up the toddler, who’s not sleeping, and decides to give the child a story. “The story of an unvanquished heart.” The story transitions to the Republic of Venice, 1797. It’s a masquerade in a wealthy man’s house and in the middle of dancing couples is Lord Albert Tyton and Maria. “His love. His life. His wife. The jewel of our tale. A countess.” It’s impossible to read this dialogue and not hear the voice of David Bowie. Jareth recounts how their happy life begin to crumble. There are several reasons for this occurring, chief among them the whispers that Albert hears. Shown on two pages, this is wonderfully creepy and completely in-line with the film. Maria discovers what the primary reason is for their troubles and it’s very real and very sad. Something is soon said that cannot be taken back and a shocking incident occurs. Two frightful characters are introduced and the premise has begun. The final line of the book is excellent. This was a fun beginning to the Goblin King’s past and I need to read more. Overall grade: A

The art: Daniel Bayliss is the artist of this book and he does a fine job. The first page contains scenes from the film, showing the Helping Hands letting go of Sarah and her falling into the Oubliette. Beetleglum is introduced as is Jareth, though the latter has a complete reveal in the first panel of Page 2. This panel is okay, but it’s fairly empty of characters and the distance from the reader doesn’t show Jareth as spectacularly as he should be. Better is when the story follows Beetleglum’s exit, who is drawn perfectly throughout this issue. Jareth’s appearance in the second panel on 3 is good and his close-ups with Toby are strong. The transition from the final panel on 3 to the first on the fourth page is outstanding, very cinematic. The designs of Albert and Maria are excellent, making the motivations of the Goblin King in the film even more understandable. In fact, the close-ups of Albert on 6 should begin to hammer home to the reader who this character is. The bottom two panels on 4 have some excellent comedic actions that seem taken straight from the film. Pages 7 and 8 are terrific with many characters on the page delivering distress to an individual simply with their voices. The number of characters and the way they’re drawn is beautiful. The third panel on 14 is some very smart staging of a portrait contrasted with a pair of characters. 16 and 17 return heavily to the fantasy elements of this series and they are wonderfully creepy. The fall on 18 is outstanding. This is followed by a neat double-paged splash introducing the book’s protagonist and his (“its”?) setting. The fantasy elements outshine those in the real world, but that’s what one would expect. Overall grade: A-

The colors: From the first panel the reader can see that this book will have good colors: look at the slick shadows and shading Dan Jackson does with the Helping Hands and Sarah. The full reveal of Jareth and the goblins retains the original brown and tan colors of the film, but is punched up with bright colors emitting from the king’s hand, the numbers and hands on a clock, and the laughter at the bottom. When Jareth picks up Toby the story becomes much brighter, becoming a cool blue, showing the care he has for this child, even if he’s going to turn him into a goblin. The masquerade is beautiful in yellows and pinks. When one of the characters hears voices the colors go to a sinister flat violet. The yellows and oranges used when some fateful words are uttered are equally well done. Jackson is a super colorist. Overall grade: A

The letters: Jim Campbell creates the text for this book which includes dialogue, Jareth’s unique speech, scene settings, sounds, yells, diminutive dialogue, the antagonists’ unique speech, and the tease for next issue. I am so happy to see that Jareth and another character have their own speech fonts. This allows each to separate from humans and gives them a very fairy-folk feel. The sounds are fun, with the one at the end of 5 being perfect. All that Campbell does is excellent. Overall grade: A

The final line: An untold tale from the Goblin King’s past that will send fans running back into the Labyrinth. The characters are fun, the drama high, and the visuals enjoyable. A worthy visit back into Jim Henson’s magical world. 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.
    One Comment
  • Raissa Devereux (@RaissaDevereux)
    4 March 2018 at 3:58 pm -

    I adored this and subscribed for new issues. The love shines through on every page.

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