Labyrinth: Under The Spell is a graphic novel anthology based on the beloved Jim Henson classic, Labyrinth. Split into four stories, the novel offers readers an eternally expansive dive into the deeper lore of the film.
The Eternal Tournament, written by S.M. Vidaurri and illustrated by Sarah Webb, sees the proud and courageous Sir Didymus and his noble steed Ambrosius take part in a competition of many trials. The prize for winning? An eternity as the bridgekeeper of the Bog of Eternal Stench!
En Guarde!, written by Sina Grace and illustrated by Boya Sun, follows a young Hoggle in need of some wanderlust away from his tedious and unrewarding role as the Guards’ Guard. With a sneaky change of the guard, he soon finds himself as the new fairy dusting groundskeeper of the Labyrinth.
No!, written by and presumably illustrated by Michael Dialynas, is the story of a clumsy young goblin called No: The Clumsy Goblin. Trying to fit in is hard enough at the best of times, within the Goblin City however, what’s yours is mine and what’s fair is unfair and vice versa.
Last but certainly not least, Masquerade is written by Lara Elena Donnelly and illustrated by Pius Bak, Samantha Dodge & French Carlomagno. The story takes place in the same timeline as Sarah and looks to answer some of the most pondered questions of Labyrinth; Just who are the other guests at the Masquerade ball? What happens to those who never find what they’re looking for? What happens to those who are never found?
The Eternal Tournament and En Guarde! surprisingly both open with an anime-like art style, with adorably exaggerated features and expressions. While the likenesses are recognisable, Webb and Sun have toned down the grotesque yet nostalgic Henson horror of characters and Jareth’s orbs aren’t perpetually and aggressively in my face. Perhaps this is to accommodate for their whimsical and unsullied realm that has yet to wither and spoil…I’m still talking about the Bowie balls.
True to Labyrinth fashion, the story with more pleasant storytelling has grimmer artwork in a sort of flipped judging of books by their covers. Similar to the styles of The Eternal Tournament and En Guarde!, this artistic choice by Dialynas could provide deeper context into the timeline in which the story is set.
My initial thought when I saw the first panel for Masquerade was “Did Mike Mignola illustrate this one?”. With three different artists at work, this final chapter offers a definitive contrast to the rest of the artwork and it fits the story perfectly. While the Labyrinth and its inhabitants are creepy in a fun and adventurous way, the inner workings of its halls and hollows host grim realities with suitably bleak imagery lurking throughout.
For long-time fans of Labyrinth, you might wonder how Sir Didymus became the keeper of the bridge. Well the Eternal Tournament answers that question with a uniquely heart-warming and fun triumph of storytelling from Vidaurri. Recognisable and beloved personalities thankfully remain recognisable and beloved in their written presentation.
En Guarde!, while staying true to the brave and cowardly Hoggle, Grace shows a different side of Jareth. This Jareth remains authoritative as a Goblin King should be, bust has compassion for his individual subjects and their roles throughout the Labyrinth. No cruelty, only generosity.
Dialynas’ story, No!, stands alone in this anthology tonally and narratively but sticks out as an innocent and important life lesson for anyone growing up, ironically just like No himself! Who’da thought you’d find something sweet in the Bog of Eternal Stench!
Finally, Masquerade shatters the ballroom mirror of our minds with a disturbingly brilliant piece of lore created by Donnelly that changes everything we assumed about the Labyrinth. On the other hand, how it resolves is nice enough but a little mediocre in execution compared to what is built up (in my personal opinion, not unlike the film.).
In conclusion, Labyrinth: Under the Spell is a fantastically virtuosic cherry on top of a piece of cake known as Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. Versatile in it’s storytelling and varied in it’s artwork while still staying true to the source material, there’s a lot here for new and old fans of the beloved film that is sure to make an eternity in the Bog of Eternal Stench a lot more manageable!
If you’re a fan of the film, you need this. I don’t know why, but every now and then in your life, for no reason at all, TRA LA LAAA!?!
Let us know in the comments your thoughts on Labyrinth: Under The Spell, your thoughts on the original film and what your favourite Jim Henson puppet is!
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