The Other Side of Adaptation: Labyrinth Coronation vol 1
The Other Side of Adaptation: Comic Books Based on Movies: Labyrinth: Coronation vol. 1
This is the start of a new series where I aim to actually start covering comic books little by little here on this site. But I wanted to do something a little bit different. Instead of looking at the comic books and graphic novels that inspired the movies that I’ve covered already on this site, I thought I would go in the opposite direction and take a look at comic books and graphic novel sequels, prequels, and adaptations where the movie became popular first and the comic was the adaptation or spin-off. I decided to start out with Labyrinth: Coronation for a few reasons. One was that I own and enjoyed the Labyrinth manga sequel Return to Labyrinth, I enjoy the movie, and it was the one that sparked my eye the most at my local library. In this review I’ll be covering the first volume of the collected work which collects the first three issues from a twelve issue miniseries. And for a bit of a spoiler to my overall thoughts on this volume: I already picked up volume 2 to read and review.
The story of the comic is a bit of a mix between a prequel and an inbetweenquel. The framing device is Jareth telling a story to baby Toby while Sarah goes through the events of the movie. The story he tells is basically Jareth’s origin story which is strikingly similar to the story about Sarah and Toby. There are several moments throughout the story where it cuts back to Jareth, Toby, and a random goblin named Beetleglum or something similar as it’s a running joke that Jareth gets the goblin’s name wrong in a different way every time.
Instead of a bratty teenage sister looking after her baby brother, it takes place in the Victorian era where a common woman named Maria falls for a bit of a con artist as they pretend to be royalty before having a baby. This time it’s the baby’s father who strikes a deal with the goblins to take the baby away while the mother ends up in the Labyrinth at the behest of the Owl King of the goblins. The rest of the beginning follows along roughly the same as the original movie. There’s obstacles, trickery, and also some more kindhearted denizens of the Labyrinth who will help Maria along the way. There’s also an interesting element where Jareth keeps implying that he is an unreliable narrator and while everything hints that the baby in the story is actually Jareth, there is a slight question surrounding things because of the unreliability.
The similarities to the original Labyrinth story are pretty clear early on. Maria is given thirteen hours to solve the Labyrinth to save her baby. Although Maria herself is initially a much stronger character than Sarah. She’s more or less an adult, and the child’s mother rather than her sister. She’s not nearly as bratty as Sarah, though she isn’t perfect. She’s a commoner happy to pretend to live as royalty despite her husband being pretty shady himself. And he bears a pretty striking resemblance to Jareth to boot. As far as the other characters in the first volume, there’s a goblin knight with a pure heart trying his hardest to be a bandit so he can fit in with the other goblins. They also eventually run into a sentient rosebush who bears some resemblance to Groot with his abilities, and while his or her vocabulary is generally better, there is an oddity with the text bubbles being written in scribbles in different sizes with an overall air of madness to it. They are all quite interesting in and of themselves and they fit together quite well with the potential for the goblin knight to betray Maria in a similar way to Hoggle.
The overall art style is also quite striking and interesting. It feels not dissimilar to Brian Froud’s art style who was the initial art designer for Labyrinth and the Dark Crystal. The comic is in full color throughout though there was one slightly confusing double page layout that was intended to be read all the way across from left to right rather than reading each individual page. Although thinking about it now, it’s actually quite fitting for the Labyrinth comic to try different and potentially confusing layouts because the Labyrinth itself is intended to be mixed up and confusing. It’s a great start to the story with several questions and freshness while still being familiar. The references to the original movie during the framework scenes with Jareth and Toby are great touches as well and I’m interested in seeing where the rest of the story goes and how closely it ties into the original movie the closer it gets to the end. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.