Bloody gashes, severed Garthim parts and battle-wounded soldiers are not images you typically relate to Dark Crystal. Issue #9 takes a harsh turn in the first few pages, reminding the audience that this is not the world we once knew. Time has changed Thra and all of its inhabitants. This is a time of desperation.
Even before the crystal was shattered, a dark shadow had been cast over the people. No one benefited from the pure light and healing of the crystal without paying a price. The toxic greed of the Crystal Eminence spread through the palace guard and manifested itself across Thra. The stories of the ancients have been forgotten and their once beautiful, magical world is slowly dying.
The Chamberlain is on a bloody rampage. Thus far Chamberlain has been devious and cunning but his patience is at an end. He has left a bloody wake of Garthim and palace soldiers. Jen awakens and is clueless to what has happened. This annoys me as it just reinforces how weak of a leader Jen has become. Or perhaps always was. Chamberlain is energized by his lust for power and the close proximity to the shard. The shard is nearly in his grasp and he will stop at nothing to close his gnarled claws around it.
Some of my favorite panels were those of the Skeksis at the crystal palace. Their constant bickering and shouting over one another takes on a humorous tone at one point when one Skeksis tries to theorize why the Mystics are incessantly chanting. “BORING!” the other yells and tries to call the group’s attention back to finding a way to the tower. The scenes are well scripted. I can hear their crackly shrieking voices and the rustling of their robes as they shuffle off seeking vengeance.
We explore the Fireling world more deeply in this issue as Kensho and Thurma are forced to navigate further into the heart of the fiery world. The stark contrast of the brilliant orange underworld and the purple, shadowy crystal palace really drives home the light and darkness of the two worlds. Kelly and Nichole Matthews’ watercolor effect has a striking effect both above and below. Under the surface Kensho and Thurma happen upon a shrine. This is a beautiful scene depicting the crystal, the Gelfling Chal, Firelings and what appears to be a mother and child formed in fiery orange and yellow. We are beginning to see how their two worlds are intertwined. Perhaps the pool of tears is not a bedtime story after all.
The juxtaposition of Kensho and Thurma, and Jen and Kira remains. Jen’s movements actually mimic those of Kensho and Thurma as they all fall to their fate. Young love was a huge part of the original Dark Crystal story and it continues in The Power of the Dark Crystal. Amidst blood and turmoil the Fireling and Gelfling cling to each other for survival. It appears that Thra may be saved by young love once again.
Did I like it? Fans will cheer for Kensho and Thurma. The Power of the Dark Crystal is a triumphant return to a fantastical tale.