Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation issue #1 is the first of a 12 part series from BOOM! Studios. It’s a story within the story of the film and starts out with the iconic scene of Sarah being trapped in the oubliette while Jareth and the goblins watch her torment. One of the goblins comments that she will never give up, prompting Jareth to tell Toby about an English Count named Albert Tyton and his wife, the Countess Maria. They had been touring Europe in the late 1790’s and ended up at a masquerade ball in Italy. A constable shows up at the door wanting to take Tyton in on some foul accusations. There is also the impending doom of Napoleon only days away from invading hanging overhead. Tyton flees the ball and heads back to their apartment while Maria stays behind to enjoy more of the festivities. When the Countess returns to their apartment and tries to enter she is stopped at the door by a guard who tells her that she cannot enter per the Count’s order. Maria sneaks in through a window and confronts her husband and the count explains that he must return home to England and that the Countess, being a commoner and not of royal blood, and their son cannot return with him.
If his father found out that he had married such a woman and had a son with her, he would disown him. Tyton chooses his fortune over his wife and child and tells Maria that the child cannot go with her for fear of blackmail. Their son must be taken to an orphanage where the Count will make a large donation to ensure the child’s well-being. Maria, fearing for the life of her son, takes the child and runs out of the apartment threatening to let everyone know exactly who and what she and the child are to the Count. Tyton sends his goon to stop her and she is chased out into the night. Tyton has also been plagued by visions of goblins in the dark. They claim to love his features and his bloodline and want him to join them as their King. While Maria tries to escape with the child the count realizes that he can both appease the goblins and get rid of the child all at the same time. Tyton says the magic words asking the goblins to take the child away right now. At that very moment, as Maria clutches tightly her son, they are both transported into the Labyrinth where they are confronted by a monstrous creature called Septimus. Septimus tells her that she is not invited or welcomed there and takes the child, sending her back to our world where the issue ends with her crying out that they have taken her son.
This issue sets up a story that Jareth tells to Toby when he is not busy tormenting Sarah. The writing is very clever in this respect as it fills in the gaps of the time that Jareth and Toby spend together. It also seems to draw a lot of parallels between Toby and the Countess’s son, as well as Sarah and the Countess Maria’s quest to rescue the ones they love. The story is masterfully written by Simon Spurrier, who just finished writing another amazing Jim Henson series, The Power of the Dark Crystal. This premiere issue starting out with a familiar scene from the film is a very effective way of immersing the reader back into that world instantaneously, while also expanding on the story of how the Goblin King possibly came to be. Spurrier also does a wonderful job of capturing the humorous interactions between Jareth and his goblin minions. From page one, it felt like an extension of the film. The issue ends with the reader wondering if Maria is going to enter the Labyrinth like Sarah to try and rescue her son. And what of this Septimus character at the end who takes the child away from her?
The artwork on this issue is incredible. Daniel Bayliss really captures the look of the world of Labyrinth and all of its fantastical characters. He mixes the fresh with the familiar while also giving us a period piece from 18th century Italy. Bayliss worked on another Jim Henson comic series as well, called Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Dragons. Dan Jackson’s colors brilliantly complement and accentuate the beautiful artwork that Bayliss has laid down upon the page. It’s bright, colorful, and whimsical, yet dark and mysterious when needed. It really sets the tone and the mood for each scene. This book not only begins a captivating tale, it also looks magnificent.
Overall this is an amazing first issue and left me very excited and intrigued to see what happens next. It is extremely well-written and the artwork is incredibly immersive. This book is a must-have for any fan of this film or of any 80s fantasy.