In Review: Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation #3

Not as strong as the previous issues.

The covers: The first of two covers for this issue is by Fiona Staples and it’s beautiful and extremely clever. Maria is walking across a small bridge and looks down into the water. Instead of her reflection, it’s Jareth, sitting down with one leg casually hanging over the side of the walkway. The background is beautiful, with a another bridge shown, complete with water falling over it and a castle in the distance. Beautiful coloring on this as well. It also has the labyrinth border around it that was on the previous two issue’s Regular covers. Fantastic! The Subscription cover is by Rebekah Isaacs and is the one I had to purchase. This has several goblins around one of Jareth’s glass globes. Within it is an image of Jareth dancing at a masquerade with a white haired woman. I love the variety of the goblins and the coloring makes the globe be the source of illumination. This is my kind of cover. Overall grades: Regular A and Subscription A+

The story: With Jareth off to lead Sarah and Hoggle down the wrong path, Beetleglum is stuck trying to keep crying toddler Toby quiet. He lifts the child out of his wooden crib to continue the tale of Maria that the Goblin King left unfinished. Poor Maria is crying because she feels she’ll never solve the Labyrinth. She pulls herself together and goes running down some stairs to find her savior from last issue, Sir Skubbin. She grabs a tree branch and knocks the goblin knight over, yelling, “Villain!” She thinks he’s about to kill someone she cannot see, but finds he was just practicing fighting on a mosaic on the ground. Maria begins to cry again, this time for her rash decision. Her tears cause Sir Skubbin to shed them as well. This causes little Toby to resume his wailing. Jareth has returned from his task and calms the child by producing one of his glass globes which shows Sarah and Hoggle being chased by a razor tipped machine in an underground passage. Beetleglum is able to get Jareth to continue the tale by asking how Maria compared to Sarah in the labyrinth. Sir Skubbin gives some backstory and is stopped when another character makes its presence known. This individual allows Maria to make a confession to the goblin knight and another character appears. Maria makes a trade with a character to continue her journey, but winds up meeting an odd little fellow who takes her in a surprising direction. I was very pleased with the turn of events on Page 20, as this area in the labyrinth is never shown in the film, so this is an entirely new location to explore. The final two pages end with the Owl King who has asked a frightful new character to do something terrible. This was a fun read from Simon Spurrier, though a lot of time is spent with Sir Skubbin. He was a fine character, but his moments could have been told in fewer pages. Still, I’m looking forward to visiting the new setting Maria is going to. Overall grade: A-

The art: This is a very interesting collection of artists and the way they are credited. Ready? Daniel Bayliss is listed as the artist, with Mattia Di Meo listed as creating layouts. Page 15 has a spot illustration by Matt Smith. Michael Dialynas with Bayliss do Page 21 and Dialynas receives sole credit for 22. This issue has visuals that aren’t always successful from Bayliss. The opening page is solid, with an establishment shot of Jareth’s castle, Beetleglum with Toby, and reintroducing Maria and Sir Skubbin. Every panel works well, with the point of view in the final panel great. Page 2 has a really large panel that doesn’t need to be that big: the top third of the illustration is wasted. The action needed to be centered and it’s not. Better is the bottom panel. The next page does a good job with the mosaic and the three panel progression of the good goblin crying. Jareth’s entrance is good and what he shows Toby is great. Beetleglum looks great on 4 and 5. I’m also liking how Bayliss continues to weave in a labyrinth pattern around panels as a frame. It looks good and it reminds the reader of the setting. The point of view that tops 8 is also good. Panel four on 9 is too simplistic, hurting the complexity of the labyrinth. This sadly continues onto the next page with the character and the background very simplistic, when it appears. It’s at this point in the book where the backgrounds disappear. This was a letdown. One of the joys of this series and film is the elaborate settings. Their absence is very noticeable. Matt Smith’s illustration is of the Wise Man from the film and looks fine. After this Maria meets a new character and this individual looks terrific. The character designs are credited to Kyla Vanderklugt and she did a fantastic job. He looks exactly like a denizen of the labyrinth. The first full-paged splash is on 20 and it’s terrific: surprising and clear. Dialynas takes over the visual chores when the focus turns to the Owl King and Septimus. The book ends with the final double-paged splash revealing this new character, who has some similarities with a character from the film. This issue’s art is decent, but inconsistent. Overall grade: C+

The colors: The first panel of the book has an excellent ominous sky due to the colors by Dan Jackson. Throughout the book Beetleglum’s eyes have a wonderful orange glow that magnifies if the character is in the dark. Maria continues to capture focus in a panel due to her bright orange hair and white dress. The armor on Sir Skubbin works, but blends in too much with the setting, making a focus hard to find if he’s in a panel. The only time the book really gets some bright colors is when the background is absent and Jackson can place a color to make the characters pop off the page; I especially like the blues on 12. More of that, please! A character has a torch in several panels and Jackson really does a superb job with it, giving it an appropriate glow and using it as a light source. Two characters have heavily muted colors on the final page and there’s no reason to do so because there’s no light source they are near. Overall grade: B

The letters: Jim Campbell’s contributions are baby wails, dialogue, Jareth’s unique speech, Toby’s baby noises, the Wise Man’s speech, one sound, the Owl King’s speech, and Septimus’s speech. I’m impressed that four characters received their own unique speech font, making them really separated from other characters. This doesn’t happen often in comics, but should. There’s only one sound in the book, which is needed, but I would have thought that there should have been one at the top of 8, though I’m sure it wasn’t Campell’s decision to not have one. I’m liking what Campbell is doing. Overall grade: A

The final line: Not as strong as the previous issues, with the story bogging down too long with one companion. The visuals are also lesser, with the backgrounds disappearing, leaving the title location absent. Still, I’m enjoying enough of this to continue reading. I’m just hoping that things improve in the next installment. Overall grade: B

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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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