In Review: Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation #7

An inconsistent issue that has me wishing more time had been spent on the art.

The covers: Another pair to find for this installment. The Regular cover is by Fiona Staples and has Sir Skubbin striking a regal pose for the reader, surrounded by the motif of the labyrinth. Nice image, but I would have preferred to have seen him with his visor up to see his face. That’s why I prefer the Variant cover by Sana Takeda. This also has Skubbin, but shows his face. His cape billows out behind him and contains images of several goblins. The background shows some terrific structures of the labyrinth. Plus the colors are really cool. I just like this cover better and it’s the one I purchased. Overall grades: Regular B- and Variant A-

The story: Simon Spurrier and Ryan Ferrier start this issue as all previous installments, with Jareth watching Sara’s progression through the labyrinth. He notices that Toby isn’t crying, prompting him to confront Beetleglum, who gets his master to leave the toddler alone so it can sleep, but getting him to continue his tale of Maria and her exploits in the labyrinth. Maria, Cible (the caterpillar), and Tangle (the humanoid rosebush) are making their way through a beautiful labyrinth composed of greenery. Their conversation leads to Cible asking if Tangle has revolution in its heart. This causes the bush to realize that the human and insect care of it, and it attempts to hug the pair, unintentionally causing the pair pain, as it does have thorns. Cible is embarrassed for screaming for her parents when being poked, “I’m still — still learning the ropes a bit — okay? Actin’ the part, sorta thing…” This leads to Maria reassuring her. “Pretending to be something isn’t the same as being it.” She says this as they come upon a tall wooden structure and enter it to find a new, large obstacle. What initially appears to be just an imposing physical force turns out to be an excellent psychological boundary for Maria to overcome. How the trio are able to escape this antagonist is clever, but too quick. It’s almost instantaneously conquered and that lessened its danger. However the story does end fantastically with the heroes, now numbering four, encountering a group that wishes to do the Owl King harm and features prominently in Jareth’s origin, I’m sure. Overall grade: B+

The art: I’m beginning to get a little dismayed by the visuals of this series. Daniel Bayliss with Irene Flores have created art that tells the story clearly, but lacks the details that such a fantasy story demands. The first example of this is Jareth, who is very simply rendered. So much so that the colorist has to add the depth to his character. The backgrounds are also extremely minimal. Once the story turns to the labyrinth, the greenery that comprises the latest incarnation of the maze the leads are in looks good atop Page 3, but the details that appear in the next pair of panels are as basic as they can be. The structure that is discovered at the end of 4 is also very simple. I was hoping that the pair of artists were doing so to allow more time to spent on this location’s interiors, but that’s not the case. There are many items within this site, but it’s just disappointing to look upon. Look at all the empty space on 5 that’s filled with line work. The antagonist that’s encountered on 7 is not frightening due to its design and execution. The Owl King gets a superior establishment panel on 10, but this is only after a lack of setting beforehand. Pages 14 and 15 have a large partial double-paged spread that reestablishes a character into the tale. It took a moment to understand how the character entered with the angle of the individual not matching the way in which he entered. The double-paged splash of 18 and 19 is neat and has me excited to see what happens after these pages. The final image of the book is fun and adventurous, closing the issue with a delightful moment. There’s much to like in this issue, but also much that leaves one disappointed. Overall grade: C

The colors: Joana Lafuente is the book’s colorist and her work is fine. The colors match those of the film, which are muted. Nothing is really bright or dazzling, save Jareth’s crystals or the reds on Toby’s pajamas and Tangle’s flowers. The interior of the structure the heroes find themselves is composed of very light violets and blues. The Owl King’s residence is full of rust colors to match the machinery within it. As noted in the art review, Lafuente is giving dimension to much of the characters and settings, doing what the linework does not. This is done well, but would have been better if the art had helped her more. Overall grade: B

The letters: This issue’s text includes Jareth speech, dialogue, Tangle speech, yells, sounds, Owl King speech, Septimus’s speech, and the tease for next issue. Jim Campbell does a great job on this book by giving certain characters their own unique speech font, allowing the reader to instantly identify who is speaking due to the visuals of their voices and to separate the characters from more normal speakers. It’s just awesome. Additionally, the sounds are fun, with a musical one on 13 very cool. Campbell is great. Overall grade: A

The final line: The story is fine, the visuals less so. This is an inconsistent issue that doesn’t have me abandoning the series, but wishing that more time had spent on it, especially with the art. The ending is more of the tone I would expect for a Labyrinth story and has me hopeful of 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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