Publisher: BOOM! Studios (Archaia imprint)
Writer: Si Spurrier
Artwork: Daniel Bayliss, Dan Jackson (colours), Jim Campbell (lettering)
Release Date: 28th March 2018
The first issue of Coronation – the brand new BOOM! Studios series set in the world of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth – provided a fresh perspective on the cult favourite movie. Is it a sequel? Is it a prequel? Well, to be honest, it doesn’t even really matter, because what we have here is a delightfully authentic return to one the best-loved fantastical landscapes ever committed to the big screen (yeah, I said it), and at the end of the day, that’s all any of us can really hope for.
The framing device is still a lot of fun, with Jareth regaling one of his goblin subjects with the story of his arrival to the Labyrinth as a baby – or his version of the story, at least. It’s structured in such a way that it feels like we’re getting an added insight into the events of the classic movie, constantly checking in with the familiar progress of Sarah’s quest to rescue her baby brother during the frequent breaks in Jareth’s tale.
Writer Si Spurrier is clearly having an absolute blast expanding on the world of the movie and getting to put together his own version of the Labyrinth itself, complete with weird creatures and plenty of misleading tricks and traps. For my money, Spurrier is one of the best “dialogue guys” in the industry today, and he continues to cement that reputation here with some brilliant verbal exchanges. Everything flows smoothly, blending funny and serious into a genuinely thrilling read, and this latest issue goes a long way towards fleshing Maria out into a thoroughly relatable protagonist, in spite of (or perhaps because of) the differences between her and Sarah.
Bayliss continues to nail the distinctive visual style we all closely associate with the movie, adding a real sense of scale to some of the wider shots, and throwing in some fantastic character designs – including Jareth’s genuinely unsettling predecessor and a decidedly suspicious “mermaid” – for good measure. It’s a great looking book, and while his style can still be perhaps a little too clean on occasion, there’s a tremendous amount of authenticity on display here, which is pretty much an essential quality for a licensed property like this.
If I’m honest, my only real concern at this point is whether the story might start to feel a little drawn-out nearer the end of its twelve issue run. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a slight on Spurrier or Bayliss necessarily, but unless there’s some sort of wrinkle thrown in along the way, twelve issues of watching Maria dodging traps and encountering colourful characters may start to grate a little.
At the end of the day, it’s nothing short of a crime that this series isn’t getting the full live-action Jim Henson treatment, because Spurrier and Bayliss are practically exploding with great ideas here. Coronation serves as a welcome return to a much-loved word, but also stands as a terrific story in its own right.