jim henson’s return to labyrinth by jake t. forbes and chris lie

Posted on June 14, 2009

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I’ve returned to the Labyrinth, and I love it!

return-to-labyrinth-coverIn1986, there was a dark fantasy movie about an imaginative 15-year old girl who wished her baby brother away. The Goblin King appeared to grant that wish. Regretful, frantic over her moment of thoughtlessness, she made a bargain with the king to solve the Labyrinth within 13 hours. If she fails, the king keeps the baby forever, as one of his goblins in the Underground Kingdom.

The girl’s name was Sarah, the baby’s, Toby, and the Goblin King’s, Jareth. As she went on her quest, Sarah met strange and wonderful creatures: the dwarf Hoggle, squirrel-fox Sir Didymus, and gentle beast Ludo.

Jareth was portrayed by David Bowie and Sarah by Jennifer Connelly in the movie.

Since then, countless adolescents, and adults, have fallen under the Labyrinth’s spell. Every now and then, there is a resurgence of interest, as evidenced by the flood of fan fiction on the net and consistent good sales of the DVD.

Produced by George Lucas, directed by Jim Henson, and co-written by children’s author Dennis Lee and Monty Python alumnus Terry Jones, Labyrinth is winning the test of time, and is on its way to becoming a classic… I’m quite sure (and I’m quite giddy at the thought), years from now, there will be a movie sequel, an anime series, and even telenovelas based on the original story.

For now, there is an OEL manga series, Return to Labyrinth, in the works. Story by Jake T Forbes and art by Chris Lie, the first volume centers on teenage Toby as he struggles through adolescent angst, and finding himself back in the Labyrinth via the schemes of the Goblin King.*

Though I’m not crazy about this focus, away from Sarah, with little of the adventure and whimsical drama of the movie, and none of its logic puzzles and nonsensical humor, I still really enjoyed reading the manga.

Sarah in this reincarnation is a teacher, older, dowdy, and sad. At first, I was aghast. Her will, as strong as the Goblin King’s, would not have allowed her to fall so low. Much of why we love the movie is that will, that spirit of defiance against an otherworldly force: she is destined for greatness, that one, and she shines with that potential.

So imagine my chagrin to see her missing from the cover and drawn like a woman who is just like any other on the inside pages. Fangirls the world over must have had a fit.

In fairness, the cover art, by Kouyu Shurei, is gorgeous.

Nevertheless, I don’t regret having discovered this series. Rather disappointed at first, I tried to imagine its potential, realizing I should give it a chance—there are three more volumes to go after all. There are hints enough of a more exciting storyline in the sequels.

With the Goblin King appropriately mean and enigmatic, as devilishly handsome as ever (in my imagination, and close enough in the manga), I am thinking I have good reason to look forward to this. Though the first volume focused on Toby, I believe this is a smokescreen—Jareth probably has an ulterior motive… He isn’t done with the girl yet, and uses her brother to draw her back into the Labyrinth.

He probably is also plotting revenge on the mortal girl who defeated him 13 years ago… but then, this is the Goblin King, who would be much less interesting if he were nice.

So here I am as well, back in Labyrinth, stuck on it, in fact. Thanks to Return to Labyrinth, which made me remember.

*Original English Language Manga. The first volume was released in 2006; the fourth volume is set to be released next year.

<br><object width=”330″ height=”200″><embed src=”http://lyrics.stlyrics.com/lyrscroll.swf?page=http%3A//www%2Estlyrics%2Ecom/lyrics/labyrinth/underground%2Ehtm&#8221; bgcolor=”#FFFFFF” width=”330″ height=”200″ name=”lyrscroll” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowScriptAccess=”never” allownetworking=”all” /></object><br><a href=”http://www.stlyrics.com&#8221; target=”_blank”>Lyrics</a> | <a href=http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/labyrinth/underground.htm target=_blank>Bowie, David – Underground lyrics</a>

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