In Review: Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation #5

Has the Owl King finally broken Maria inside the Labyrinth?

The covers: Two different covers to find if you can find your way to them. The Regular cover by Fiona Staples has the reader looking down upon the Owl King who craddles the stolen child in his arms. He stands upon a giant clock glowing an eerie yellow that’s composed of a labyrinth. Surrounding this image is the labyrinth motif that the previous covers have had. This is very nice. The Variant by Sana Takeda is a stunner. The reader looks down upon upset Maria who has her hands clutched to her chest. Behind her are the Escher stairs from the climax of the film. Before her, looking upon her as if she were a picture in a frame, are several goblins. This is amazing and is print, poster, and tee shirt worthy. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant A+

The story: Jareth the Goblin King commands that Beetleglum bring the baby Toby to him. The tiny goblin brings in the child, asking his master if he’s going to continue the story about the woman. Jareth reprimands the creature, saying that watching his sister Sara fail in the labyrinth would be better because if the child is to become one of them he must crave what all goblins crave, “Entertainment!” The story then moves to the past where the Owl King’s servants complain they want entertainment. He roars as he leaves the creatures, coming upon the wailing child he’s taken from Maria. He wants the child to remain silent. Lurking nearby is the monstrous Septimus who says he only awaits his master’s word to silence the child forever. The Owl King laments that he is old and that there are many in the court who wish to rebel against him. “But they’ll be grateful for me in the end — This will see to that.” He produces a glowing blue globe from his garb and within is the means he’ll use to break Maria. Simon Spurrier then moves his story to the fretful mother and her friends who can hear her toddler wailing in the evil king’s castle. A new character is introduced and he seems familiar to the distraught mother. Several threats appear and a battle begins, though Maria seeks to find a solution to her dilemma in a different way. A meeting occurs with some very intriguing dialogue that results in a solid surprise for the issue’s cliffhanger. Like a real labyrinth, one never knows where Spurrier will spin this story next and that makes each installment incredibly readable. Overall grade: A-

The art: Daniel Bayliss with Irene Flores are responsible for the art. The book teases Jareth by not showing his face on the first page, but his hand. Beetleglum and Toby’s reactions to the hand before them are great. Linking this action to Sarah’s plight is shown in the Goblin King’s glass, showing the young girl running from the Fireys. Pages 2 and 3 are split double-paged splashes, showing Jareth at the top, sitting in his throne with his goblin horde before him. Below is the Owl King, nursing a headache on his throne, with his complaining minions before him. The goblins in the top image look just as the creatures appeared in the film. The minions at the bottom look like dark apostles in their pointed hats, with the background looking wonderful. I’m really enjoying the look of the Owl King; he’s very much an animal and very frightening, especially when he roars such as on Page 4. His close-ups, like on 5, have him a horror. The establishment of his castle on 6 is good, with the distant shot at the bottom of the page equally well done. Maria and her companions look good. The reveal on the panel that stretches from Page 10 to 11 is doing a lot, but there’s also a lot of empty space: it’s establishing some new villains and their environment, but the top of 11 is fairly empty, as if there was supposed to be more dialogue inserted. Additionally, there aren’t that many antagonists appearing on the pages: only six. For that much space, I expected to see numbers that would overwhelm the heroes. The large panel on 12 has the protagonist looking awkward. Page 13 returns to the present and everything looks terrific. The reveal on 17 is outstanding — it’s definitely a WOW! visual moment. The energy created on 19 is great and it leads to a impressive full-paged splash on 20. The last page sets the book in another direction, and I want to see what comes of this location next month. Overall grade: B+

The colors: There aren’t many bright colors in this book. The original film was mostly browns and tans, with the Fireys being the brightest moment in the movie. In this issue Dan Jackson gets to brighten things up with Toby’s red and white jimjams, some neon blues from the head villains’ crystals, Maria’s orange locks, and the bright energy that appears in this issue’s climax. The rest of the book looks fine, but is dominated by browns, tans, grays, and dull golds. It works and is appropriate for this prequel, though the tease of some deep blues on the final page hopeful signal some brighter moments next month. Overall grade: B+

The letters: Jim Campbell creates Jareth’s dialogue, normal dialogue, sounds, the Owl King’s dialogue, Septimus’s dialogue, the living rose bush’s dialogue, the dialogue of the necromantic horrors, yells, dialogue that fades into nothing, and the tease for next issue. If you didn’t notice, there are an incredible number of unique dialogue fonts in this issue. Having certain characters have their own font really sets them up as beyond human and gives them an added visual dimension. It’s impressive and Campbell is outstanding on each one. I’m also impressed with the sounds that include some comical muttering and several baby wails. Campbell did an outstanding job on this issue. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Has the Owl King finally broken Maria inside the Labyrinth? The story is interesting, with Maria having several great scenes. The villainous Owl King gets some good character growth, while Jareth continues to be devilishly delightful. The visuals are good and the colors appropriate. I’m following this series all the way to its conclusion. 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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