Maria’s journey through the Labyrinth takes a darker twist as she comes face to face with the Owl King. Is she puzzling things out? Or is she merely going mad?

Jim Henson's Labyrinth: Coronation #5 ReviewJIM HENSON’S LABYRINTH: CORONATION #5

Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artists: Daniel Bayliss, Irene Flores
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Archaia
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 25, 2018

Previously in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth:  Coronation: Against the overlay of the plot from the movie, we follow the story of Maria, Jareth’s mother, as she tries to find Jareth in the Owl King’s Labyrinth. She meets odd characters such as Skubbin (the outlaw knight) and a walking, talking rosebush. Just as she starts to figure out that the Labyrinth is based on her dreams, the Owl King changes the rules.

A DARK AND TWISTING PATH THROUGH HUMAN EMOTION

Once again, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation #5 anchors us with a scene related to the Labyrinth story we already know from the movie. Beetleglum, the goblin minding baby Toby, asks Jareth to continue his story, but Jareth is firm – if Toby is to become one of them, he must grow to crave entertainment above all else. That entertainment, as it was in the past, mainly involves people getting caught and consumed by the Labyrinth. This entertainment is important to the Owl King to distract his subjects from the fact that he is old and dying. But Maria is more clever than he expected, and he has had to delve into Albert Tyton’s (Jareth’s father) dreams, using them against her.

Maria, in the Labyrinth, is in a graveyard now wondering how she could be dreaming of the Tyton family tomb, which she has never even seen. A goblin approaches her, calling her a Knight, as she has Skubbin’s ring (traded previously for a token of hers – chalk). This goblin is the architect of the Owl King’s tomb. Here Maria learns that the King is near death, and finds out that he is learning things about humans not through her mind as a filter. The King wants a fancy tomb done in human fashion, but the denizens of the cemetery (about what you might expect) find it an eyesore. Skubbin trades the chalk back for his ring so he can carry out his knightly duty and fight the undead. Maria, unable to help herself, draws a likeness of Albert. She still loves him, which may be a weakness for her in the Labyrinth.

Her drawing changes into a sculpture, and she finds she can reshape the very stone with her chalk. She changes the pyramid the architect is building for a florid mausoleum, much to the admiration of the undead (although not the architect, who makes a “you’re just a woman!” comment – Maria’s expression here is priceless). But then the Owl King arrives, destroying the stone head, vanishing her friends, and leaving her stranded on a small stone platform in the middle of a watery maze.

That’s the surface plot. Beneath the superficial adventure, there are underlying threads about the distraction of entertainment from reality, and about the power of emotions such as pride and arrogance. The Owl King’s weapon is not something he physically wields – it is the knowledge that human behavior derives from our inability to be alone. This is rather thought-provoking, and I enjoy when a book can make me think.

WHEN IS A DREAM A NIGHTMARE?

Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation #5 is an interesting book to look at, and I find myself looking back over it just for sheer pleasure. The various goblins have distinctive faces, and there are differences between those from the Sarah-Era and those from the Maria-Era (which are distinctly more sinister). We see more of the Owl King, and he is a fascinating character, definitely owl-like and only roughly humanoid where he needs to be.

The colors tend to be even more muted, much more in the gray and blue tones. Appropriate, for having much of the action being set in a graveyard, but I think it also emphasizes the darker mood of this issue. An interesting side effect of this is how the rosebush stands out because of the touches of red. There is still some humor as well, which tones down the creepiness of the undead goblins, such as when one complains about the lack of proper dribbly candles.

BOTTOM LINE: RICHLY INTRIGUING

Again, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation #5 is definitely not a jumping on point, but I find it rather darkly satisfying. We know where the plot is going, and now we can start wondering more how we get to the end point. (Remember – we already know Jareth get stuck here and becomes the Goblin King.) But now we also find out that the book as something to say about human emotion which makes it ever so much more interesting.

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About Author

By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

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