Archaia/Jim Henson Company/Boom Studios 2019
Story by Jeffrey Addiss & Will Matthews
Written by Nicole Andelfinger
Illustrated by Matias Basla
Coloured by Miguel Muerto
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Return to another world, another time…in the age of wonder. The Skeksis reign over Thra, but there are distant echoes of rebellion in the air. Gelfling and unlikely heroes emerge to champion what is good and just, but their stories started long ago. Epic tales of adventure, magic, and mystery send us back in time to witness the untold histories that forged these protectors of Thra.
Confession time, I have never seen the film, yes I was twelve when it came out but I never did have an interest I suppose. Over the years I just never thought to actually watch it or read anything that might have been done with it. So here I am with my first experience with the franchise and I am kind of sad about that because this is lovely.
I really like the way that this is being told. The story & plot development that we see here feels pretty straightforward but then again looks are often deceiving. I am impressed with how the story is layered and these different avenues which may be explored at some point. The way that we see information released and then the subtle revelations within the story as the come to light are extremely well done. The character development we see is just as strong and well done and it feels as if we're just really scratching the surface on their personalities yet in the same breath you can sense what's within. The pacing picks all this up and weaves them together and apart while also showing the twists and turns that keep us on our toes.
That the writing we see engages the reader in some truly wonderful ways. I mean the opening here I was sure of what was going to happen, I was wrong of course but still that I am thinking off-script and that I am this engaged and invested shows Nicole's skill and talent as a writer. Not just that but the story feels powerful it feel like it could be one of those epic adventures where life and death happen in those ways that surprise and devastate the characters. What we see is one thing it's what we feel from this that makes the reader want and need to see and know more.
I like the interior artwork here and since I am not knowledgeable about these species what I see is beautifully done and has this familiar and yet foreign look to them. The linework from Matias is gorgeous work and how the varying weights are being utilised to bring out this beautiful attention to detail makes it even more exciting. That the characters are so expressive and we can see their emotions adds to the characterisation in ways that words alone cannot do. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a marvellous eye for storytelling. I like the composition inside the panels and how we see the backgrounds being able to provide depth perception while enhancing the moments and bringing a size and scope to the book, don't forget that we also see scale as well so what we is really impressive.
The colour work here is interesting. I think there are some unusual choices in the colours that we see and with some of the hues and tones to create shading make moments really stand out. Without this colour work the Skeksis wouldn't nearly as impressive, intimidating and honesty creepy as all get out. The creativity and imagination here is extraordinary to see.
So I love the ebb & flow that the story, plot and character development bring to the story. There is also the fact that some of what we see kind of lulls us into this false sense of security as those spider monster things, the Arathim, make their way to their city. I love the sense of optimism in the face of overwhelming odds and how Ordon is stubborn like a fox and yet fierce as they come. This has everything you want it to have and their weirdness in the visage is how it's supposed to be seen so with this sense of awe and wonder I invite to enter this world with an open mind and heart.