Monday, November 15, 2010

Jim Henson's Return to Labyrinth Volumes 2, 3 & 4 by Jake T. Forbes and Chris Lie

Published 2007, 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Secrets are revealed as the reign of power passes from one heir to another...

Toby has been named the next Goblin King and Lord of the Labyrinth, and the goblins are in an uproar. As heir to Jareth's throne, Toby hopes he can be more successful than he was in the human world, but first he must earn the respect of his subjects and learn to control the Labyrinth. His tutor in leadership and magic is Mizumi, the icy Queen of Moraine, but with each lesson, the young king finds himself drifting further away from his friends. Toby may have what it takes to rule this unruly kingdom, but at what cost? (vol. 2, book back blurb)

For Toby, as it is for all who enter the Labyrinth, the way forward is sometimes the way back . . .

Through danger untold and hardships unnumbered, Toby has finally arrived at the day of his coronation. But he is still unable to control the Labyrinth, treachery and deceit surround him, and worse yet - it's become clear that some of his soon-to-be subjects are less than happy about his recent appointment. Toby will have to keep his wits about him and his friends by his side if he's going to survive his first day as king! (vol. 3, book back blurb)

Can Toby, the new Goblin King, find his way in an aimless Labyrinth before everything he cares about disappears like the shadows of a dream?

All Toby Williams ever wanted was a purpose in life, which he thought he'd found when Jareth, the Goblin King, made him heir to the Labyrinth. But one should always be careful about what they wish for, as powerful forces still consider Toby a mere pawn. And he's not the only one - Jareth hasn't given up on his quest to dominate Toby's sister, Sarah. Her dreams live on within the Labyrinth in the form of a masked girl named Moppet, who may very well hold the key to everything . . . (vol. 4, book back blurb)

I wouldn't get much by the way of reviews if I split all of these up, plus there's more to comment on when targeted as a whole series instead of individual books so a combined review it is.

I read the first volume of this Labyrinth sequel while I was on vacation and pretty much as soon as I was done, I had to order the rest because I needed to see where these writers took the story and the world and I have to say, as a hardcore Labyrinth fan, I wasn't disappointed.

First a comment on the artwork. The covers are gorgeous. I don't think there's much denying that. The artwork within the pages itself, the one that tells the story, isn't as beautiful (I just don't think there was the room and I think it would have rocketed the cost of the book itself) but it really portrayed the world without being too angular anime-looking. The only characters that looked even remotely close to that angular look that kind of freaks me out was Toby, Jareth and that's pretty much it. The rest of the humans had some slight angles but nothing serious and the rest of the creatures, the goblins and faeries and whatnot, looked like they did in the movie which was all sorts of awesome. I liked how the artist didn't stray from that look too far.

As far as the story goes, considering the interest Jareth took in Toby and Sarah in the movie, I felt that it was an almost natural progression to go where it ultimately went. I could have lived without the Ice Queen spurned by the Goblin King but what fantasy story would be anything without some good romantic conflict? Actually, it wasn't all that great. It was okay and it served its purpose in the plot but really, I could have lived without it. I think the Queen consigned a little too easily at the end there, relinquishing her hold that she held so steadfastly to for so long. Maybe when she realized that she'll never have him she felt why bother anymore. Hey, at least she realized it. It's more than what a lot of chicks do in that situation.

I loved the tie-in between Moppet and Sarah. I don't want to spoil it because I was pretty shocked to find out just what Jareth did (I'll give you a hint, it's along the lines of Spike's Buffy-bot, but not quite) but it suits his persona and the world as a whole. Yeah, as the Goblin King who totally doesn't like getting pwned by a 15 year old girl, I could see him holding a grudge and taking it out on her like he did. I wish Sarah was a stronger character within the series, though. I kind of get why she wasn't up until the end, but the correlation between the why there and her personality originally, they don't match up. She was such a strong character that barely even considered taking the King's offerings in the movie (she barely paused a second when he offered her his balls . . . er . . .). But in the story, she damn near concedes. I found that out of character for her even outside of her character transformation.

As I said above, I could have lived without the Queen being there, especially her two daughters, although I liked what they ended up being. And associated to that, how they were their own individuals despite the circumstances (read the books, you'll know what I'm talking about, I'm trying not to spoil). The chubby one was just obnoxious and I was kind of glad when she was taken out of the picture. The emo one, I kind of like the 180 she did but ultimately, I didn't feel her being there all that important to the story as a whole except functioning more as a guide. And there are plenty of other creatures in the Labyrinth that could have done that. I did like how the story branched out beyond the Labyrinth and created other kingdoms but I think it could have been melded together differently.

At the end of the day, Toby's story was the one I kept pushing to the side because I wanted to know more about Sarah and Moppet. All of the teasers that centered around them were just too juicy to resist. I mean, it's not that I didn't like Toby's tale, but it's a pretty standard one. A hint of Chosen One Syndrome with a bit of coming of age mixed in. His surroundings were kind of cool but other than that, I wasn't too interested. Let's face it: I wanted more Jareth and Sarah. So I kept reading for that.

While I think I would have liked to have seen actual novelizations over manga, I still liked the visuals and I was able to follow along with the story just fine. These books are a definite keeper if you're a Labyrinth fan. And you'd better hurry up. Pretty soon they'll be nothing but a dream (or a costly keepsake) soon enough. No, really. BN doesn't list them at all and Borders only has the last two in the series. So snag them while they're cheap. You'll be kicking yourself if you wait and end up paying $200 a pop like the movie novelization is.

1 comment:

Asenath said...

AMAZING! I have to get this! Labyrinth was (IS) my favorite movie growing up!

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