Maria meets a revolutionary new friend, and we find out who Skubbin really is. The Owl King may be getting old and tired, but he is still plotting, and at the heart of his plot is the child Jareth.
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Daniel Bayliss
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: BOOM! Studios (Archaia)
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: August 22, 2018
Previously in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth Coronation: Maria continues to navigate her way around the Labyrinth searching for her baby, Jareth. She learns that the Owl King is dying, and that he is not well-liked. She also learns that her chalk is magical here, and she can draw things into existence. But even that is not enough to save her as the Owl King cheats and leaves her stranded in the labyrinth.
A SECRET IS REVEALED
Jim Henson’s Labyrinth Coronation #6 begins with the adult Jareth admonishing Beetleglum that baby Toby should be watching his sister’s struggles. Toby isn’t there because he’s crying, and Jareth remarks that he never cried when he was a baby, which is not what Beetleglum remembers. It’s a nice reminder that Jareth as our narrator is not a reliable one.
We pick up Maria’s story where we left her – on a small platform in the middle of a watery part of the Labyrinth, alone except for the broken statue of Albert (her lover) which she had created last issue. Fortunately, a gondolier floats by, and she remembers that she now has a fancy ring so she can pay for a ride. She gets in, only to remember that she traded the ring back to Skubbin for her chalk. The gondolier casually pushes her into the water and Maria is washed away to the top of a cascade. She catches hold of a tangled root at the last minute, and meets a tiny caterpillar (or worm) – another callback to the movie – named Cible, who decides to go with her. There is a charming scene of the caterpillar family’s home, and little Cible, who has never left home in her life, sets out to help Maria rescue her baby, and to fight for the rights of every repressed goblin. And then they’re washed away.
The Owl King treats his courtiers to gifts. Skubbin, who is sitting there under guard, accuses him of being afraid of his own subjects. After a little back and forth, we learn that Skubbin is actually the Owl King’s own son. Skubbin was raised on human nonsense and chivalry, impossible standards that aren’t really valued, and he feels like he can’t think for himself any more. The Owl King confesses that he stole Jareth so Skubbin can chase his own dreams – but Maria must fail so that the Owl King has an heir. This leaves Skubbin in a bind. He doesn’t want to betray Maria, but if she wins and gets her baby back, he is again the heir to the throne.
Maria and Cible land at the edge of a manicured lawn, where they see a group of goblins decked out for the hunt – red jackets, riding boots and all – astride some outlandish creatures. Cible (the revolutionary) names them as lickspittle courtiers, beneficiaries of the king’s policies of depriving goblins of the right to act like goblins. (Have I mentioned that Cible’s never even left home before?) Maria is stressed out and tries to focus on going after her baby and friends, even though they are a useless bandit and a hedge. As if on cue, the rose hedge shows up, being chased by the goblin hunt. Maria draws the hunters out of existence.
In the final scene, the Owl King sends Skubbin back out into the world. He keeps Septimus, the monster, back with him. He feels the only way to avoid rebellion is with a stronger king, and we find out he intends to become stronger himself by stealing time from Jareth for himself.
FANTASTICAL AND DREAMLIKE
We already know that Jim Henson’s Labyrinth Coronation #6 takes place in a very dreamlike world. Trying to describe the plot feels a lot like trying to capture a dream and explain how it all seemed to make sense at the time. The art fits this theme well as we go from one crazy scene to another entirely different one. This issue is all about scale. Maria is meant to feel small in the Labyrinth when we start out, and indeed she does. Then she meets Cible, and to the caterpillars, Maria is a giant. I mentioned this scene above, but the art also merits comment. I love the contrast between the dark, rushing water outside, and the cozy, wallpapered, caterpillar home. Utter chaos juxtaposed against charming domesticity. There’s also something to be said for Cible when she reveals herself as a revolutionary – her cape, her gold-edge tricorn hat, her cravat, and her tiny little sword.
The art is very expressive. There are moments when facial expressions are so exaggerated as to come across as somewhat odd, but at the very least, we can tell what everyone is thinking. There are also a couple occasions where the crying Toby or Jareth seems not quite natural. On the other hand, the body language is communicated very well, even on tiny caterpillars, and even on the rose hedge.
BOTTOM LINE: THE OWL KING IS A NASTY PIECE OF WORK
The Owl King in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth Coronation #6 has always been nasty, but until now, he’s just seemed like a baby kidnapper. Now we see that he’s worse. This also throws a wrench into a story where we already sort of know how things ultimately turn out. But this story was never just about the end – it is about the journey.