Review – The Power of the Dark Crystal #1 (of 12) (BOOM! Studios)


Publisher: BOOM! Studios (Archaia imprint)
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artwork: Kelly & Nichole Matthews
Release Date: 22nd February 2017

In celebration of the 35th anniversary of Jim Henson’s cult classic movie, BOOM! Studios imprint Archaia are publishing a comicbook version of the never-released sequel, The Power of the Dark Crystal, the first issue of which goes on sale this Wednesday.

It should probably go without saying that this series is aimed at readers who have already seen the movie, so there’s some level of prior knowledge assumed before picking this one up.  That said, writer Simon Spurrier does a solid job of filling in the blanks during the course of this first issue, hopefully doing enough to bring even the newest of readers up to speed.

As a set-up issue, it’s fair to say that this opening chapter does its job admirably, refreshing our collective memories about the events of the 1982 movie and establishing the new status quo as we re-join the story a hundred years down the line.  Unfortunately, the need for so much exposition makes this a fairly slow issue from a story advancement point of view, and while that would clearly be a bigger problem in a four-part series than in this twelve-part one, it’s still probably worth noting for readers hoping to immediately leap back into this fascinating world.

Spurrier does his part well, as his extensive track record might suggest, producing dialogue that, for better or worse, feels authentic to the 80s movie.  The new characters introduced here are also endearing and intriguing enough to draw the reader in, and the familiar faces are used sparingly to push the story forward.

Visually, this isn’t a bad looking comic by any stretch of the imagination, and the duo of Kelly and Nichole Matthews do a solid job of creating a visually interesting world here – it’s just that it doesn’t come anywhere close to capturing the offbeat charm of the Henson original, instead feeling a little sterile and overly sanitised in places.  The colour work is impressive, particularly during the scenes featuring young Thurma the Fireling, but again it all feels a little glossy and digital at times, jarring considerably with the distinctive aesthetic that readers will associate with the big screen version of Thra.

If these criticisms sound like I’m being overly picky, it’s only because of the burden of expectation placed on this series.  If this were just another stand-alone fantasy story, the above comments – particularly those surrounding the artwork – would be far more forgivable, but when you’re providing an official sequel to a much-loved movie, there’s a definite need for things to feel authentic. And while Spurrier’s writing definitely succeeds in this respect, the artwork isn’t quite holding up its end of the bargain just yet.

Ultimately then, artistic niggles aside, this first issue provides an enjoyable reintroduction to the world of the Jim Henson classic, setting up an intriguing new status quo and giving fans of the original movie a whole new reason to be excited.  And hopefully, with the exposition now out of the way, the story can start to build some real momentum and deliver the sequel we’ve all been hoping for.

Rating: 3/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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