‘Jim Henson's Labyrinth: Coronation Volume 2’ - Softcover Review

A worm, a mother, and a talking rosebush walk into a maze...

If I had a dime for every time I heard that one I'd be ten cents richer, right? No, this story is not your traditional one-trick pony. It continues to do wonders for the fans of the movie, fans of the comic, and fans of Henson himself. It has that distinct Henson feel to it, like the feeling you get in your cheeks only from Welch's Grape Juice. You get that Henson tingle. Not to be confused with the Tangle, which we'll talk about in approximately now.

The Tangle, if you haven't already surmised, is the walking, talking, thorned cuddle monster previously mentioned. A natural beauty found in the world of The Labyrinth, covered in roses and wrought with confusion, stumbling through sentences like a semi-coherent kid half drunk on cough syrup. The good kind with kid-friendly doses of codeine.

You ever read a book and hear a specific voice in your head of how a character sounds? You probably have; I know I do, and the doctors all say I'm fine. Mostly. The voice I immediately got for the Tangle was that of a busted, soon-to-be disintegrated GlaDOS from the Portal video game series. This thing, no shade being thrown, this thing is a frenzy of prickly vines and friendliness, the type of character that would pet the bunny too hard and hug it too tightly, if you catch my meaning. The Lenny of foliage.

What could be more admirable than a mother literally changing the world to save her child? What could be more unfortunate than a lowly servant girl playing at being an aristocrat? It all depends on whom you ask. Who's to say it can't be both? The answer lies within the heart of a mother that ferociously beats to the tune of saving her kin. Maria, the most devoted mother currently in the Labyrinth, fits that bill. Just when you think you know somebody, they go and surprise you. Through all her pain and hardship, she still loves the man that denied her, admonished her, and broke her. Through hardships unnumbered, eh? Such a strong will for someone so small in stature and wealth. A will that annoys and provokes His Highness, the Owl King to no small extent.
 
Who is this Owl King and why should we give a hoot? This Owl King rules the kingdom and though he is dying and unpopular, has planning on his side, plans that must be executed immediately to prevent uprising, rebellion or even extinction. So much attention paid to each crook and corner of the Labyrinth to prevent being usurped that his strength wanes and power depletes, forcing him to measures beyond reprehension, at least to good-hearted people, like your friend and mine, Cible, a.k.a. Bunderghast the Invincible! Our previously mentioned worm friend's reputation precedes them, more than their actual daring deeds or lack thereof. Cible has gumption, grit, and a can-do attitude that yells, "Watch out, world! Here I come! I don't care if I'm prepared, I've got chutzpah and that's what counts!" Good on her and her ability to to persevere, just as Maria does.

Many more characters could be dissected and poured over, but the one continuously intriguing and compelling is Beetleglum the goblin. He's the throughline that connects to all. Charged with taking care of (specifically keeping quiet) the young, stolen babe who would be king. Jareth the Goblin King commands that the child be kept silent, lest he disrupts his Highness' royal musings. Just as was commanded by the Owl King, when he absconded a young boy from Venice and brought to the castle beyond the Goblin City. Beetleglum took care of that child, too. Backstory makes a tale more fulfilling because you know more of who the characters really are, off the clock so to speak. Finding out a goblin is more than just having a desire for entertainment and ale. Some also enjoy dance. It's comforting to know that every goblin doesn't want to eat your face. Some do I hear.

The characters make the story rich, but the artwork makes it complete. Page by page, the swiping grew faster. I needed to read each panel as quickly as I could, because that next sentence may be even better than the previous. Phew! Fun, but extensive and occasionally emotionally exhausting. Another read to slow down and process the content. I went through it again and again, comparing the movie and comic side by side. The details down to the crown molding on a wall are as rich and intriguing as any from the film. Much like going through the movie and finding hidden surprises with each watch, I repeatedly went through panel by panel to see what was to be seen and, believe me, there are things that want to be seen. Check each page; you may find something that wasn't there before.

Be you a fan of Henson, Bowie, a tantalizing tale, or just like a good puzzle, you're ready to be engulfed into a world of fantasy and intrigue. Give it a read and lemme know what you think.

You can thank me later...

Jim Henson's Labyrinth: Coronation Vol. 2 compiles issues 5-8 and doesn't disappoint.





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