Maria Reaches Her Breaking Point In Labyrinth: Coronation #3

by Rachel Bellwoar

Previously In The Pages of Labyrinth: Coronation:

Maria’s son is the heir to the goblin kingdom. Determined to get him back before the Owl King can make things official, issue three sees Maria continue to make her way through the Owl King’s maze to save him.

Labyrinth: Coronation #3 is the first issue of the series from Boom! Studios that we spend entirely in the labyrinth. No goblins hanging over the panels, or scenes among the wealthy set in Venice. Besides the red of Maria’s hair, Dan Jackson’s colors are intensely earthy, making you grateful for the breaks to Jareth’s castle, where he’s telling Toby this tale. There’s one stretch where Maria stays in the same location too long, and another where she stands completely still for three panels. It’s oppressive, but also makes issue three the right moment for Maria to lose her cool about her child being taken.

Issues one and two gave Maria problems to react to, and less time to think. On a visual level, there was more variety to the settings. Coming after issues one and two, three feels more restrained but serves the story, by putting readers in the same boat as Maria. No longer able to feel as active, the labyrinth starts to get to her (letterer Jim Campbell adds a tremor to her speech bubbles), while Jareth’s reliability as narrator falls under (further) question when art and narration blatantly contradict each other.

Writer, Simon Spurrier and artist, Daniel Bayliss continue to weave something extraordinary with this series – something I wouldn’t have thought possible if I weren’t reading it for myself. This isn’t a remake but an original story that fills in and bolsters the mythology of a beloved 80’s movie.

One way it does this is by separating Jareth from the man who played him and whose performance, understandably, overshadows the part. While Bayliss’ Jareth is recognizable as the Goblin King (and Spurrier does an amazing job replicating his voice) you’re not seeing David Bowie as Jareth, but Jareth as a character, whose psychology is of greater interest to this series than it was to the movie’s plot.

I considered that a comic on Labyrinth could be entertaining but I never thought it would give me a fresh lease on the film. When you’re watching Labyrinth, you don’t feel like you need an explanation for why Jareth treats Sarah the way he does. It’s easy to conclude that one isn’t necessary or likely to add anything, but these characters only improve the more complexly they’re written, and through learning more about why Jareth is cruel towards Sarah, Labyrinth: Coronation addresses Sarah’s reputation as a maligned hero and provides an alternate hero in Maria.

Callbacks to the film are made without needing characters to formally return. It also sells the point that this isn’t the same labyrinth Sarah entered as a teen, but one designed for a woman from the 18th century. Evidence points to their being stock characters that repeatedly crop up, but reimagined, so they’re never exactly the way you remember.

When you’re a Labyrinth fan you have to develop a healthy skepticism, for your wallet’s sake, but Labyrinth: Coronation is the real deal. Labyrinth: Coronation #3 may be more subdued than previous issues, but as the latest installment, continues the great work Spurrier and Bayliss are doing, with tricks that let you fall for them before revealing their secrets, and questions for every answer found.

Labyrinth #3 goes on sale April 25th from Archaia, a Boom! Studios imprint.