The Power of the Dark Crystal is based on a script for the sequel to the original 1982 movie. Boom! Studios have enlisted Si Spurrier to rework the magic and take readers on a long overdue journey back to Thra.
If you are of a certain age you will probably remember going to the cinema to see the dark, muppet movie The Dark Crystal. It will no doubt have captivated you and drawn you into its slow paced, grim looking fantasy world. For years’ rumours have been abound about a sequel, including the proposition of a CGI follow up made on a tight budget. For good or ill, the sequel didn't materialise but thanks to Boom! Studios, the continuation of the story is available in comic book format.
The new story is set 100 years after the Great Crystal was healed and the Mystics and Skeksis' left the world of Thra, as seen in the original movie. The people of the world venture forth once more and peace has reigned under the glowing light of the Crystal of Power.
Enter into this seemingly ideal world a Fireling and everyone begins to panic. Aughra, the sage and know it all from the movie, has seen the warnings and dreads what the Fireling will bring.
The old world and the new are about to be tested and the fate of the Great Crystal is at the centre of it all.
The Dark Crystal is a must see movie, and if you are of a certain age you will should have seen it. It's a movie that deals with such themes as Death, Predestination, Religious dogma and is a beautiful fantasy adventure. It was brilliant designed by Brian Froud and created by Jim Hensons' creature shop. The story is mystical and evenly paced, a far cry from the Flashy, colour soaked Disney offerings.
For years a sequel has been in production and various rumours have spread about when and where it will appear but as yet it has never got off the ground. This is where this comic comes in. Archaia, and Boom! Studios, have for a number of years had the rights to produce new stories within the world of the Dark Crystal, as well as the other much loved children's classic Labyrinth. Short stories have been released over time, often in the Free Comic Book Day specials. But this is the first monthly title that they have put out and who better to write it than Simon Spurrier?
Spurrier is currently at the top of his game, having produced some outstanding work in the last few years. Titles such as Cry Wolf and his work on Doctor Who have received high praise but it is his creator owned title, The Spire, where his narrative craftsmanship really shines. It is also exactly the reason why he could be the only person to write a new Dark Crystal story. The Spire has the feel of a Jim Henson world woven into it so it was especially exciting when he was chosen to write the continuing adventures of Aughra, Jen and Kira.
The story for issue one of The Power of the Dark Crystal is a standard fantasy sequel set up affair. It sets the scene and reintroduces the reader to the world of Thra with its changes and host of inhabitants. Using Aughra as a central figure from the beginning is a great move because it instantly gives the reader, and the writer, a familiar character to focus the story around. She was an integral part of the movie without being a hero or villain; she's an observer just like the reader although she does seem to know more than anyone else.
The beauty of the script is how much it reads like the movie. From the opening monologue you get the sense that you are witnessing the sequel to the film. It has the same style and pacing. It's difficult to read without hearing the voice of Joseph O'Conor, the movies narrator, in your head. As the new chronicle progresses the narration continues in the same tone, mirroring the voice over of the movie, and setting the tone for the entire comic. This is a majestic, fantasy populated with benevolent characters. When there is a moment of cruelty, for example when the podlings are turned away from the Castle for being too poor to bring an offering, it jars the reader; it is out of place in this, almost, Utopian world. The opening tells us the world has been healed but are there still scars irritating Thar?
Of course the story wouldn't have the same effect on the reader without the outstanding art work by Kelly and Nichole Matthews. The line work appears simple but each panel is packed with colourful detail. The characters are distinctive and the landscapes lavish. Beauty runs through each page. There is a playfulness to the aesthetic that makes it appear simpler than it actually is. Bright colours sparkle in the darkness of underground caverns, and the evening landscapes are coated with a livid purple.
The artists want the reader to feel comfortable in this world. You are being invited back in to a world that you a familiar with but subtle quirks in characters and backgrounds hint at a darkness beneath. Changes in shade and shadow are used to highlight the internal workings of each character. For example, a dark shadow cast across the castle priest adds a malice to the words he speaks but a change in light helps to illustrate the eternal goodness of Kira and Jen.
The first issue of The Power of The Dark Crystal is a the ground laying issue that takes it’s time to set up the series in an engaging and aesthetically pleasing way. It's the sequel to the movie that all the fans want but isn't so soaked in nostalgia that those new to the Dark Crystal will feel as though they have missed out. A pleasing start to a 12 issue series.