Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Reviews: Return to Labyrinth Volumes 2 & 3

Now that my beating heart has returned to a somewhat normal pace, my review of volumes 2 and 3 of Return to Labyrinth should be more coherent than the blubbering fan-girl mess that was my review of volume one. Effeminate, rail-thin Englishmen with atrocious teeth don't usually have that effect on me. It's a Bowie thing. Well, a Goblin King thing.

Spoiler free.

At the end of volume 1, Jareth named Toby his heir. (That's not a spoiler because Jareth tells us that's what he's going to do right from the beginning.) But we'll get to Toby in a minute.

Volume 2: It's thirteen years previously and Jareth's having nasty dream about Sarah beating him at his own game all over again. He goes to see the witch, Mizumi, whom he rejected a thousand or so years earlier after toying carelessly with her heart. Is she bitter? HELL yes. But either that doesn't occur to Jareth or he's too Sarah-addled to care because he asks her for a favour: an ablation. Sound nasty? It kinda is. But we don't get to find out why until volume 3.

Back to Toby and the present day. Most of volume 2 for Toby is exploring the Labyrinth and learning what his new role as king will entail. The creepiest bit is when he discovers the Museum of Toby, created by this tall, stringy goblin with spiny fingers and pointed teeth. This dubious character has fashioned a life-sized dummy of Toby ... out of Toby's dead skin cells and toe-nail clippings collected over the last decade. Ew.

Moppet, the girl/goblin who can't remember who she is, discovers a room in the castle which seems familiar, and has a flashback to Jareth doing the fear me/love me speech. (I bet he says that to all the girls.) Alarm bells are a-ringing! There's also an armoire. An armoire was practically mandatory in all Lab fan-fic I read as a teenager. The "it" word. Filled with flouncy dresses, of course. Good to see the tradition lives on.

No questions are really answered in volume 2, but there's a sense things are building up to something, and it ain't necessarily good. The story kinda faffs around a bit (why do I care if Hana gets her wings back, really?) but it's all worth it for the very last page. I squealed. I really did.

Volume 3, then. I got excited all over again reading this installment. I realised that the burning question isn't "Will Sarah and Jareth declare their undying love for one another and make the dreams of little-girls-all-grown-up round the world come true?" but "Is Jareth good or evil?" And really, as much as I'll swoon if I get my happy ending that's been twenty years in the goddamn making, I'm getting pretty antsy to know the answer to question 2.

So, volume three goes something like: coronation coronation, Mizumi and her daughters being bitchy, yukky goblins being yukky ... the ablation is explained. Oh, it's good. Well, actually it's pretty evil, but you get my drift. And it makes the closing scenes pretty darn sinister. I was wrong about the predictions I made about Moppet. I love it when I'm wrong and the real answer is so much juicier.

I think what I like best about these comics is that they feel very similar to to the film. They're quirky and odd, and, if I may quote, things aren't always what they seem. (Jareth even breaks into a tortured serenade at one point. How Labyrinth is that?) Sure, the transition between frames can be clumsy and the dialogue's pretty naff and most renderings of Jareth and Sarah are way off. But the characterisation's done well and the story's certainly an interesting one. It was always going to be hard for what is essentially fan fiction to live up to the film. And hats off to you Jake T. Forbes and Chris Lie. You've done a pretty all right job.

And I'm dying to know. Jareth: good or evil?

Volume four out ... sometime soon I hope.


  1. I blame you for my current Labyrinth bender. I've been bed-ridden since Friday and it's pretty much been all Labyrinth all the time since them. I'm re-reading my British copy of the novelization, watched the movie a few times, bought some original lobby cards from eBay, bought a Japanese movie program from eBay, bought a poster book from Amazon, bought an original photo album from Amazon . . . my bills will be in the mail.

  2. *Cackles evilly* I'm pleased to hear it! I was drooling over Lab merch the other day too. Managed to resist. Have you picked up the manga yet?

  3. Have you seen the cover the fourth volume yet? It's gorgeous!