Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Review: Return to Labyrinth Volume 1

Disclaimer: At Rhiannon Hart, we pride ourselves on providing our readers with thoughtful, objective reviews, presented in a calm and coherent manner. Unfortunately, this is not one of those times. Rhiannon Hart has lost her head. (But her heart will always belong to the Goblin King.)

I have gushed about my love for Labyrinth on previous posts, but let me say it again: I LOVE LABYRINTH. It's one of my favourite films of all time, highly influential in my work and utterly, utterly romantic, fantastic, beautiful and INCORRIGIBLE for it's heart-breaking ending. I swear that Labyrinth is single-handedly responsible for my total distrust of babies. When I found out a week ago that there was an official Henson-approved Manga series that is a sequel, called Return to Labyrinth, I couldn't get my hands on it fast enough. It arrived this morning at my office and I had to sit through a whole day staring at it's beautiful cover, dying for home time. Yes, I read it as I walked to my tram, on the tram, in the supermarket queue and all the way to my flat. I demolished its meagre 200 pages in about an hour and promptly ordered volumes two and three from Book Depository.

I am so happy! This is reading bliss! I have read tons of Labyrinth fan fiction (and even written some myself--there, I'm outed, you'll all read about it on Hey! Teenager of the Year in a day or so anyway so I'm just going to say it now: MY NAME IS RHIANNON AND I WROTE LABYRINTH FAN FICTION AS A TEENAGER!) but nothing compares with an official-honest-to-gods-written-edited-printed-hold-in-your-hands version. It feels real. It feels amazing. I'm currently breathing into a paper bag.

The cover, as you can see, is gorgeous. I would have loved to open the book and find similarly beautiful artwork, but obviously the production costs would have been phenomenal. Each volume retails for about AU/US$10, which is another reason I didn't think twice about ordering them. I skimmed the premise of each book on Wikipedia, and while the protagonist of these sequels is Toby and not Sarah, she does cameo in volume one, and has scenes with Jareth in later volumes. What more do I need to hear? Jareth and Sarah meet again!

The premise goes something like this: After Sarah's return from the Labyrinth, Jareth secretly names Toby his heir, as he has no child of his own. Throughout his life, Jareth has been a sort of fairy-godmother to Toby, giving him his heart's desire every time he says "I wish..." Toby, kept in the dark by his big sister, hasn't got any idea about the Labyrinth or Jareth, so when a goblin appears and steal his homework, he chases it and finds himself in a very odd place indeed.

There's a short overview of the film as a prologue, presented half as the Cinderella tale, and half as Sarah tells it to Toby when she's trying to make him stop crying at the start of the film: "...But what no one knew was that the King of the Goblins had fallen in love with the Princess and given her certain powers..."

The drawings are lovely, particularly the highly detailed chapter openers. There are many characters from the movie including Ludo, Sir Didymus, Ambrosius, Hoggle (now Prince of the Land of Stench, as Jareth promised) and the Fireys. The human characters themselves are highly simplified, and unfortunately Jareth suffers the most. There's nothing of Bowie about him and he resembles any generic Manga character. Sarah's in her twenties, wears glasses, and in opening sketches resembles Harry Potter. I hope she fares better in later volumes.

There's not a huge amount of meat to the story. It serves more to introduce new characters who will feature in later volumes, including the human girl masquerading as a goblin, Moppet, whom I suspect will become Toby's love interest. There's also Mikuza, Jareth's thwarted bride who is determined to win him back so her foul daughters can rule the Labyrinth, I presume.

Since reading Return to Labyrinth my two decades of Toby-hating have been curbed. I rather like his character in this series. Volume one was published in 2006 (twenty years after the film was released), volume two in 2008, volume three in May this year and volume four, the final installment, is to be published...? So far no date has been set, but all I can say is I better get my Jareth-and-Sarah happy ending soon because I'm not waiting another freaking twenty years to get it!

For die-hard fans. Particularly those with soft spot for romance and think that babies are far better off as goblins.



    beyond the walls of the goblin city and deep down into the oubliette of my soul.

    *sigh* AIMEE <3 JARETH 4 EVA

  2. You remind me of the babe
    What babe?
    The babe with power
    What power?
    The power of voodoo
    Who do?
    You do!
    Do what?
    Remind me of the babe!

    Sorry, I couldn't resist. I was watching Labyrinth just today.

    I went to Kings Comics in Sydney on Saturday and they didn't have volume 3 in. They told me to try online. Waaaaah! Want! D=

    Just wait until you get to the end of volume 2. I squee'd. 8D

    Forbes also has a pretty good website, here: www.gobblin.net
    Just beware of spoilers in some of the discussions.

  3. I really enjoyed Labyrinth as a kid and I saw this manga in my comic book store one day last year and picke dit up. Haven't touched it yet but your enthusiasm clearly makes me think I should read it like....now! :)

  4. I had *no* idea this manga existed. Of course I loved Labyrinth too (it's my second favourite Bowie movie). I never got to the fan fiction stage, but I'm so revisiting it now. The drawings look beautiful too. Wow.

  5. Labyrinth makes me laugh in all the ways a movie shouldn't, so I think I'll pass on this one. Great review, though!

  6. Hello. I've only read the first Labyrinth one and quite liked it. Big fan of the movie too. They don't make fantasy films like that anymore, which is a shame!!

    I assume you are aware of a "Dark Crystal" manga prequel then? It's titled "Legends Of The Dark Crystal."

  7. I'm not a big fan of The Dark Crystal. That bird thing that goes mmmm-MMMMMM annoys the hell outta me. Scared me as a child :)

  8. OH.MY.GOD. !!!!
    I LOVE Labyrinth! Also up there with one my favorite movies of all time; definitely something I have to regularly watch over and over and over again.
    And I had NO IDEA that there was a manga made out of it. Seriously. . .how could I not know?
    I am going to order it RIGHT NOW! I am so glad that you loved it; I was so worried from your disclaimer that you were going to talk about how horrible it was.

  9. There needs to be a "like" button standard on web pages, like there is on Facebook, because I like your disclaimer.
    I need to watch this movie again, it's been too long. And I've never actually read any Labyrinth books, so I take it I should do that, too.

  10. I need to watch the movie again. Definitely.

  11. OMG! OMG! OMG!
    Thank you Rhiannon! I had no idea these existed! I can not wait to get my hands on them.
    If every movie in the world disappeared and we were only left with Labyrinth to watch until the end of time...I would be happy...so, so happy.

  12. Does this mean there's hope for a film sequel to the Labyrinth? Can David Bowie still squeeze into those tights?

  13. No hope for a film sequel :( But Bowie's always been a size zero so tights are not out of the question!

  14. I'm looking at the pictures from this movie on IMDB and I think I've seen it but I cannot remember anything about the movie(I might have seen it when I was a young teenager). I have memories of David Bowie in a film and I'm pretty sure this is the one. I have to watch it again(seing how much you love it there is no doubt about that!)!

  15. Definitely see it again Ladybug! You'll fall in love with it :)