Jim Henson’s Beneath the Dark Crystal #1 is the highly anticipated follow up to the critically acclaimed and groundbreaking The Power of the Dark Crystal! It is the first in a twelve part series from BOOM studios continuing the story of the Gelfling Kensho and the Fireling Thurma.
This issue starts us out in a world divided — not between light and dark, but between above and below. Above in the world of Thra, the Gelfling wonder what to do next now that the Urskeks are gone and Jen and Kira have left. The fate and leadership of the kingdom now falls to Kensho the Light Born, who is reluctant to take the throne even with Aughra’s nomination. Kensho sees the corruption in Thra and feels that everyone is talking and fighting about it but no one is actually doing anything to stop it. Kensho wants to save the world but does not know how so he asks the help of his newfound friend Toolah, who works in the stables along with the beast Bohrtog.
Meanwhile, beneath the Dark Crystal near the core in the kingdom of Mithra, the Fireling Thurma also contemplates her role in the ruling of their kingdom. With her and her friend Fiola being the only two left born from the Ember Queens and eligible for the throne, Thurma is the only one to rule since Fiola has been chosen to lead the High Council. Thurma wishes to rebuild their ancient ruined castle, bring Mithra back to its former glory, introduce Mithra to the rest of the world and bring peace and harmony throughout. In order to do this she needs the approval and the support of the High Council and goes to them with her plan to restore Mithra and connect it to the world above. Just before they can crown Thurma Ember Queen, the ceremony is interrupted by another vying for the throne. A Gelfling named Nita enters the coronation chamber, claiming to be the sole heir of the first Firelings Chal and Salura and challenges Thurma to the crown.
The writing on this issue is good and it does do a great job of tying in certain elements from The Power of the Dark Crystal such as touching upon the relationship between Thurma and Kensho. It mentions Kensho being reborn from the crystal after being killed and also has the character Tumby written in as Thurma’s companion. It seems to have a bit of a slower-paced feel to it coming off of the amazing climactic ending to the last 12 part series penned by Simon Spurrier, but considering that this is new territory not dictated by a screenplay, it is written well. Adam Smith does a good job of going back and forth between the events in Thra and in Mithra seamlessly while also integrating the parallels between the two main characters having to take control of their kingdoms. There is a level of intensity and suspense at the end of the issue with the introduction of the character Nita and her challenging Thurma to the crown. It isn’t bad for an introductory issue, but it’s definitely more dialogue-driven and feels like a setup more than a full-fledged issue with elements of action and adventure.
Alexandria Huntington’s artwork on this issue is beautiful. It’s kept stylized and reminiscent of what the Matthews sisters did in Power, but Huntington definitely makes it her own and gives it a little bit more of a watercolor feel to the finish of it. The characters are very whimsical looking and the colors are very cool and smooth. It will be interesting to see where the art direction goes as we further explore Mithra and the action and adventure mounts, pushing the story forward.
Overall this is not a bad issue, it just feels more like an introduction setting up for a grand adventure in the issues to follow. It’s not necessarily a must have for all readers, but the writing and the artwork seem on par with the previous series and I definitely recommend it for any readers that collected an enjoyed The Power of the Dark Crystal.