In Review: Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation #2

Maria is the labyrinth, but can she save her child in time?

The covers: There are three covers for this issue. The Regular cover is by Fiona Staples and features Maria journeying into the unknown aboard a gondola steered by a goblin, while another of the creatures calmly fishes off the vessel. Maria looks nervously forward to see if there’s anything that could cause her harm. If only she looked in the water she would see several goblins emerging from the water. Beautiful and creepy cover. The labyrinth motif that surrounds the image is wonderful. Very cool. The Subscription cover is by Rebekah Isaacs, an artist whose work I’ve enjoyed on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is a neat companion piece to last issue’s Variant cover. Maria is holding the crystal ball in both her hands where she can see a goblin stealing a human child from its crib. A single tear streaks down her face to demonstrate she’s not as impassive as she might seem. Against a gray background are bubbles of different sizes and shades that give this image an increased magical tone. I love this. There’s also a slightly changed cover for the Second Printing of this issue. It’s the same as the Regular cover by Staples except it doesn’t have the labyrinth frame around the image. Also very cool. Overall grades: Regular A, Variant A+, and Second Printing A

The story: Gazing into his magic crystal, Goblin King Jareth sees Sarah meeting Hoggle. Goblin Beetleglum tells the king that the girl is not as selfish as he says since she’s determined to save her brother. He dismisses the tiny creature by saying the girl knows nothing of true determination. “The kind that comes with unconditional love. The kind that is calmfocused…and utterly dignified.” Simon Spurrier’s tale then returns to the past in Venice where Lord Albert Tyton tries to apologize to his lover Maria, but she is angry because she wants to know where her son is. She doesn’t recall falling into the water and losing her child, but he tells that’s what occurred. Then he adds, “They…They came to me. Made me offers.” He says their king needed an heir. “‘An injection of good blood.’ That’s how they put it.” She wants her child back and wants him to undo the deal, but he will not. She takes matters into her hand, but not before the reader is introduced to Tyton’s associate Lorenzo. Maria does something drastic, but is unsuccessful, though she has captured the attention of the Owl King who brings her to his realm to make a deal. Page 12 has a funny, but honest, scene involving the heroine and the big bad that’s beautiful. The first character that she encounters is classical, which has a great surprise. The second individual that she encounters is similar to Sir Didymus though his visage betrays a change for the environment. The penultimate page features Jareth gearing up to make an appearance before Sarah and Hoggle that was a brilliant “lost scene” from Spurrier. The book ends with the Owl King revealing that there’s much in his personality that’s not dissimilar from that of Jareth. The story has truly begun as Maria is in the labyrinth. Incredibly fun. Overall grade: A 

The art: The first panel of the book is a wonderfully warped image of what Jareth spies in his glass globe. It features a scene from the film, but is curved excellently to show what the character sees. Daniel Bayliss gets to present the real world of Venice for six pages before diving fully into the labyrinth and he does a great job in both environments. The large panel on Page 2 shows another warped vision, this time at the docks, where Maria can be see stomping up to Tyton’s ship. The top panel on 3 looks great, making the conversation that follows realistic. Each character’s posture communicates visually to the reader how each feels, with Tyton elusive in looking at his love, while Maria fixes on him until she begins to despair. The middle panel on 4 is a delightfully dark tease of what’s to come in this series. Lorenzo’s brief appearance on 6 has him look incredibly fierce and I’m hopeful that Bayliss will get to show this character in action. The transition between Pages 8 and 9 is outstanding: I love it! On 9 Bayliss does something extremely clever with the panel borders, putting a labyrinth design within them to show that Maria’s wish will be granted. The first full-paged splash is on 10 with the Owl King looking undeniably frightening and powerful. When the rules are given on 12, this villain’s full visage is seen and he looks terrific. The character Maria encounters on 14 becomes incredibly thrilling on 15, as are the three pages that follow. The design of the character introduced on 18 is similar to a character to the film, though much larger. The final illustration on 20 is powerful and really requires no text to understand, though what’s said is good. I absolutely adore 21, for it shows Jareth donning attire from the film that I love. I’m glad that Bayliss is the artist of this book. Overall grade: A 

The colors: Dan Jackson, one of my favorite colorists who also worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, places a lot of work into this issue. He starts with some neat pale blues for Jareth’s glass, which mirror the color of his eyes — subtle and cool! The sky of Venice is a wonderful blue that would be envy of anywhere in the world. Maria stands out on every page she appears for her shock of orange hair, instantly drawing the reader’s eye. When Maria enters the world of the labyrinth, the blue skies have gone gray, foreshadowing the dangers she will face. I do like how the sky changes to a breezy blue-green when the Owl King gives her a deadline. The blues on the first character Maria meets are the expected shade for its species, but notice how it changes to a harsh violet when an action is made. Very dramatic. The next character she encounters is clad in an appropriate bronze. Through the issue there are wonderful lighting effects done with torches that shine with bright, luminescent colors. Overall grade: A

The letters: The issue’s text created by Jim Campbell is made up of Jareth’s speech, dialogue, yells, the Owl King’s speech, warning voices, a unique character’s voice, sounds, and the tease for next issue. I like that Campbell has Jareth’s voice looking different from everyone else’s, visually separating him from others. There’s also a slight difference between the Owl King and Maria’s voices: the letter u is just a little different. This, too, separates this character from all others. There aren’t any sounds until Maria encounters individuals in the labyrinth and they’re great: loving the YIPs. Overall grade: A

The final line: Maria is the labyrinth, but can she save her child in time? Excellent story that continues the dark fantasy tone of the feature film with new characters. The insanity the protagonist encounters is fun and the visuals capture and expand the look of the movie. I need more of this now! What an enjoyable way to get lost. 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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