Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Under the Spell #1

Writers: S.M. Vidaurri, Michael Dialynas, Sina Grace
Artists: Sarah Webb, Michael Dialynas, Boya Sun
Colorist: Laura Langston
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Archaia

Review by Melissa Prange

Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Under the Spell #1 contains three new tales of Labyrinthian lore. “The Eternal Tournament” tells of how Sir Didymus and Ambrosius came to guard the Bog of Eternal Stench. “En Guard” similarly provides a backstory for Hoggle, explaining how he became the caretaker of the Labyrinth. The final story, “No!”, introduces the history of Know, the Almighty Moving Library.   

With the addition of these tales, the world of Labyrinth becomes yet more and more all-encompassing. There have been many Labyrinth comics at this point, and characters large and small are receiving detailed backstories. Sometimes, these are interesting. Sometimes, they are not. Under the Spell’s tales falls somewhere in-between.

The strongest story in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Under the Spell #1 is “The Eternal Tournament.” In it, a clueless Sir Didymus enters a tourney to compete for the Goblin King’s favor. Little does he know that favor is bestowed on the winner by giving them guard duty over the Bog of Eternal Stench. Stories about Sir Didymus and Ambrosius are always entertaining (mostly because Sir Didymus plays the fool well), and “The Eternal Tournament” doesn’t disappoint. It has heart, humor, and lovely storybook art.  

Unfortunately, the other two stories are not quite as charming. “En Guard,” in particular, feels unnecessary. The lack of substance in Hoggle’s backstory is the main culprit for the story’s weakness, but it’s also disappointing that Hoggle looks more like Bilbo Baggins in the artwork than the craggy, little man he is. (I wasn’t even 100% certain the character was Hoggle until Jareth calls him by name.) The most on-point artwork of the issue is actually contained in “No!” It best portrays the look and feel of the film without being too untidy. The story for “No!” is enjoyable too, but it covers a lot of ground explored in previous Labyrinth tales, which make it a slight disappointment.

The Verdict: Wait and See.

As Labyrinth comics go, Under the Spell is a pleasant diversion, but it doesn’t necessarily have enough substance to warrant the cost of the issue. One good story, one decent story, and one meh story doesn’t make this a must buy. These tales will doubtlessly be gathered into a collection someday, and depending on your love of Labyrinth, it might be worth waiting for that release. However, if you love Labyrinth very, very much, you won’t regret buying Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Under the Spell #1. Still, as someone who also loves Labyrinth, I can say that you won’t be missing out on a whole lot if you hold out on this one either.

Melissa Prange

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