Maria escapes from her floating prison with Skubbin the outlaw knight and a walking, talking rosebush. But is she making any headway through the Labyrinth? What will it take for her to get to her baby? Let’s find out in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation #4 from BOOM! Studios.
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Daniel Bayliss; Irene Flores
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: BOOM! Studios (Archaia)
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: 5/30/2018
Previously in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation: Jareth is telling the story of a previous baby stolen by the goblins, one who was not rescued (and who happens to be named Jareth). Maria, the baby’s mother, is trying to find him. She was getting some help from the outlaw knight Skubbin until they parted ways when she pointed him toward the exit, and then she was captured!
ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER KING, ANOTHER BABY
Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation #4 starts out with our resourceful protagonist, Maria, in a flying prison but not for long as she has just broken out the bars from her window. Her escape is interrupted by the arrival of a co-prisoner, Skubbin, arrested for being pitiful in public. She starts to climb out the window only to find out that Skubbin has a skeleton key. They slip out of the cell and open the door to the cell block only to find a night troll, sent by the King, on the other side. So much for that plan. Instead, they free the other prisoners, including a sentient, walking rose bush who helps them to escape, downing the prison ship and the troll with a barrage of thorns.
If this sounds a little dream-like, we are in the Labyrinth after all. The rose bush harkens back to issue #1, and is also a memory of Maria’s childhood. She recognizes that the Labyrinth reflects her own memories and tries to use this to gain some control of it. But we have been reminded that kings cheat. The Owl King has been busy. He has tracked down Maria’s husband, Albert, on a ship fleeing to England after he abandoned Maria and Jareth to their fates. Albert’s greatest fears are scandal, loss of his position and privilege, and mainly – his father. The Owl King taps into Albert’s childhood fears to reshape the Labyrinth. Maria now finds herself in unfamiliar territory – confronted with the Tyton Family crypt.
THE TALE OF ONE HEROINE AND THE REFLECTION OF ANOTHER
Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation #4 is not a jumping on point for new readers, unless you’re fine with a little bit of confusion. There are two timelines running through the story: that of the movie, and that of this story, which is being told during the course of the movie. It is an interesting way to both remind us of the source material, but also to compare and contrast Maria and Sarah. We mainly see Maria’s story, but Sarah’s provides little guideposts along the way. These are always pretty clear, especially with the use of white borders for Maria’s story, and black for Sarah’s. It’s incredibly subtle, but it really helps. It sure seems like we’re learning Jareth’s backstory, although he is not admitting it. With these two stories, there are a lot of parallel characters, and the art does a good job keeping them distinct. The Labyrinth itself looks different – much more Venetian – but it feels right. Most of the scenes are pretty static, but the few big action scenes are more dynamic and do pop. Background detailing is not very rich, but there is enough that we can tell where we are and what has changed.
BOTTOM LINE: FAMILIAR AND REFRESHING
This story pays homage to the source material affectionately and carefully. Basing it in a different century allows the creators to bring new features to the Labyrinth so it feels fresh and new as well as familiar. The plot is intriguing – even if we’re pretty sure we know how it ends, we aren’t exactly sure how it will get there. This is a Labyrinth worth visiting.