In Review: Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation #6

A wonderful new character is introduced as Maria continues to search for her missing child.

The covers: Either cover from the pair of choices this month would make an excellent addition to anyone’s collection. The Regular cover by Fiona Staples is a gorgeous illustration of Maria falling underwater, pulled downwards by masked creatures with mermaid tails. This is beautiful, considering the precarious situation she is in. The character looks lovely, the creatures engaging and mysterious, and the water effects (the bubbles charting her fall) wonderful. This also features the labyrinth frame that’s been common on all the Regular covers. The Subscription cover by Sana Takeda is another outstanding Variant from this artist. Goblin King Jareth is in his costume ball garb from the film. He stands with his back to a mirror that’s shattering, showing images of the Escher inspired staircase from the climax of the film, as well as frightened goblins in the bottom most shards. Jareth looks terrific, especially with his hair waving in the wake of his destruction. Overall grades: Both A

The story: At this midpoint of this series, writer Simon Spurrier has some neat reveals in this issue. The book opens with Jareth watching Sarah’s journey through the labyrinth, where she’s now at the Bog of Eternal Stench accompanied by the massive Ludo. Bettleglum asks the Goblin King to continue his story of Maria and her quest to retrieve her stolen child. The heroine is standing atop a structure that is at a juncture of four canals. As she wonders how she’ll get to her boy a gondola appears and she asks for passage, after all she has a ring that Sir Skubbin gave her to pay her way. Once in the conveyance she remembers that she swapped the token for something else. What follows next is very funny and has the young woman pulled away by the waters, avoiding a tremendous drop by grabbing a branch. Sitting on an outcrop of brick is a bright pink worm named Cible. This character is absolutely delightfully (What is it about worms in the labyrinth being so engaging?). Cible has a brief conversation with her family before deciding to help Maria and the pair are soon off together, though not in the way Maria had expected. This leads to a brief scene between the Owl King and Skubbin, who is being watched over by the monstrous Septimus. Their conversation reveals several interesting twists, giving both characters some new motivations. Maria and Cible arrive in a location from the film, with several familiar looking characters there, as well as one from previous issues. This installment ends on a dark note with the Owl King revealing something about his captured charge. I love the reveals of this issue and Cible has stolen my heart. Overall grade: A

The art: Daniel Bayliss with Irene Flores are the book’s artists and their work is good. The book begins with some fun images of Jareth in his chair being irritated by Beetleglum. I like how the borders between the panels have been made to look like the labyrinth; a neat little visual that isn’t necessary, but is just so cool. Maria’s introduction has her in the hopeless situation of being marooned in the canals. The arrival of the gondola is sudden, but that’s the way of the labyrinth. The four panel sequence that begins Page 3 is excellent, having all the timing of a scene from the film. Where Maria goes in the final two panels on this page is terrifying for its scale, but with the turn of a page Bayliss and Flores increase the stature of her danger. The entrance of Cible into the book in the last panel on 4 is outstanding: she’s shown from the back and it’s enough to have fans of the film rejoice. The worm’s calm reaction to Maria’s danger is fun, with the tight close-ups of the heroine’s face increasing the tension. The reveal at the top of 8 is fantastic. The large panel on 10 that features only one word of dialogue is wonderful for the tension, the warmth, and the dread it contains. The characters that appear at the bottom of 12 are familiar and what they do to Maria and Cible is great — this issue has a lot of strong visual humor. Another funny sequence occurs on 15 and it made me laugh out loud. The technique that a character employs on 15 and 16 is difficult to understand, but it’s explained by the characters. The final page has a terrific large panel that shows the literal machinations of the Owl King. The reaction in the last panel is one that will be felt by all readers. This issue was well drawn. Overall grade: A

The colors: This issue is colored by Dan Jackson who uses tones and shades from the film. The first page has all the browns and tans one will remember from the film. The highlight on Jareth’s nose in the first panel is a little too much, however, giving him the appearance of a beak. The blue waters that Maria finds herself in are well done, also allowing her pink flesh and orange hair to stand out. Cible is a hot and light pink that makes her an instant eye catcher in any panel she inhabits. The gold on the item she wears on Page 10 is the perfect compliment to her pink skin. Page 16 is not only difficult to understand due to the artwork, but the coloring as well. I realize that the colors chosen are to show the intensity of what’s in play, but they blur the images of the artwork together instead of having the reader focus on the action. However, once this is done the story turns to the Owl King and his reveal on the final page which is colored in delightful golds, yellows, and browns. Overall grade: A-

The letters: Jareth’s speech, dialogue, sounds, the Owl King’s speech, a returning character’s unique speech, and the book’s “To be continued…” are all crafted by Jim Campbell. The variety of speech fonts that populate this book are sensational. When books use special fonts for characters it is another visual marker for the reader to identify who is speaking as well distance the character from what one would consider the normal characters. With Jareth and the Owl King employing such fonts they seem above those that surround them or threaten them. The sounds are appropriate for each action, with the RUMBLEs and FWAHs my favorites. Overall grade: A

The final line: A wonderful new character is introduced as Maria continues to search for her missing child. The story is fun, with plenty of threats and laughs for the heroine, while the visuals are the best they’ve been. Everything about this issue works. This is a worthy prequel to the film. 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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