Legends of the Dark Crystal, Vol. 1

PDF-file by Barbara Randall Kesel

Legends of the Dark Crystal, Vol. 1 PDF ebook download (review for vol. 1&2)

two stars not because the story scored a 40% but simply because it "was ok." just ok, and really nothing more.

when I found this series I was filled with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. oh cool, Dark Crystal graphic novels! oh no...they are published by Tokyopop...the last thing any Dark Crystal fan wants to see is a Dark Crystal comic drawn up by manga artists. at least, I didn't (and I like Japanese comics).after finishing these two volumes, I felt disappointed but considering the Dark Crystal sequel was never made, oh well, at least it's something?

the story line is simple which could generate criticism but think about the movie — it was a movie meant for kids, therefore it was simple as well. in these two graphic novels we spend most of our time with the gelflings as they are slowly being wiped out by the garthim. this conflict is where the story begins and ends, spoilers withheld. there are a few new creations including Woulf (essentially a Fizzgig with legs) and the mounders which are again on the "ok" scale. a smaller portion of the story is spent with the skeksis and the whole story is opened and closed by a mystic (narrator). surprisingly, there is almost no time spent on the podlings. you briefly see some in the skeksi court but then that's it. no land striders either or swamp creatures while I'm at it.

since it is easier to destroy than to create, here are some good things about this 2-part prequel to the Dark Crystal:

-the graphic novels follow the proper Froudian lore by bestowing their gelflings with a strong connection to music. our main character, Lahr, carries around a flute like Jen. the importance of music and its occasional magical powers are also later showcased by the Namopo valley gelflings.
-the story spends a lot of time with gelfling tribes which allows the readers to observe gelfling life which was never really offered in the movie.
-there are complaints here that the skeksi names are too similar. however, according to The World of the Dark Crystal, these suffix oriented names are right though not a direct match with the original Froud creations.
-the urRu design is integrated into character costumes (especially in Neffi) which again goes back to The World of the Dark Crystal mythology.
-the portrayal of skeksis in these books is close to those in the movie. Chamberlain is the main skeksi in the book and his "hmmmmm~!" moments are plentiful. the skeksi emperor staff is also properly replicated in the books.
-Aughra also makes some appearances in all of her glory. Aughra ties with the mystics in terms of what was drawn best in these books.

so with these good points in mind I suppose my main criticism of this 2007 prequel is that it could have been so much more, especially in the art department (most of these artists graduated from SCAD, come on!). while there were a few good moments of artistic design the art was just too simple to do justice for the original Froud creations. thankfully, the art wasn't too manga-ized (phew) but still, the art just lacked whimsical charm. this could have easily been fixed by maybe stepping characters out of the simple panel format used in this series or just incorporating more detail into the character costumes, especially in the case of the skesis which are hard to distinguish from each other in black and white format. complexity sold the Froud world and the artists here fail to live up to that standard.

in conclusion, the second volume is more satisfying than the first in my opinion. they are a very quick read overall. if you've seen the movie, these are worth the read. if you haven't seen the movie but find your interest pricked, go for it and then watch the movie. however, if you've seen the movie, really like Froud and have read all the other published Dark Crystal material, you might appreciate but not necessarily enjoy this prequel. nevertheless, these were a nice birthday present, a reluctant smile to those who crafted this prequel and I am ok with housing them in my book collection.

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