There are a lot of comics out there, but some stand out head and shoulders above the pack. With “Don’t Miss This,” we want to spotlight those series we think need to be on your pull list. This week, we’re going to another world, another time, in the age of wonder and talking about “Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance,” published by Boom! Studios and including creators Nicole Andlefinger, Matias Balsa, Adam Cesare, French Carlomango and more. There are epic quests, weird characters, Hup is the star of the story (finally,) and so much more! Do you want Skeksis? You’ll get Skeksis! Join me, folks, as we take a look at how this series takes a great show and produces a comic just as memorable.
Who is this by?
While this comic is only twelve issues, there are a lot of people who have helped make it come to life. “Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” has three arcs each with their own creative team. In each case, the creative teams are working from stories developed by Will Matthews and Jeff Adiss, the creators of “Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.
The first arc, “The Quest for the Dual Glaive” is written by Nicole Andlefinger, whose previous titles include “Lumberjanes” and “Adventure Time.” Andlefinger does a great job of capturing the “just scary enough” tone of the franchise. She is joined by Matias Balsa, who also worked on the comic “Styx and Stone” as well as doing cover art. Rounding out the first creative team is Miquel Muerto, the colorist for “Something is Killing the Children,” “Low Road West,” and “Bleed Them Dry.”
The current arc is written by Adam Cesare who also worked on “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” and “Adventure Time. He is joined by French Carlomango who worked with Cesare on “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.”
What’s it all about?
“Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance” is a twelve-issue miniseries that tells three original stories about the characters from the Netflix show of the same name. The first story “The Quest for the Dual Glaive,” tells the adventures of Ordon and the future Maudra Fara as they attempt to save their town from a growing threat. The current arc is “The Ballad of Hup & Barfinnious” and shows how everyone’s favorite Podling Paladin began his noble quest.
While both sound like your pretty standard fantasy fare, “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” has all of the dark humor, mystery, and heart that makes both the original movie and the show work so well, allowing for other characters to shine and also giving fun stories that enhance the mythology of the show. While it might be crazy to suggest a prequel to a prequel, the comic does a great job creating exciting stories that keep you guessing.
What makes it so great?
It’s hard to know how much great original fantasy we lost with the death of Jim Henson. While The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth have their faults, they have reached a level of cult status mainly due to their memorable characters, settings, and spectacular puppetry. But in 2019, we were able to return to the world of Thra and hopefully reminded people just how spectacular puppetry is. “Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” continues what the show was able to achieve, which is a prequel that doesn’t feel unnecessary.
Nicole Andlefinger and Adam Cesare both do a wonderful job of capturing the tone of both the show and the original movie, creating a world that is both magical and just scary enough to frighten some children but not necessarily scar them for life. Another great thing about having multiple creative teams is that they all bring a different kind of energy to the table. The current story, “The Ballad of Hup and Barfinneous” is a lighthearted romp about how Hup’s innocence, good nature, and desire to be a hero can be easily manipulated by a Gelfling conman. A far cry from “The Quest for the Dual Glaive,” which featured all of the trappings of a fantasy adventure, complete with vague prophecies from mystics and a trap-laden dungeon. But in both cases, their writing would fit seamlessly into the world of Thra. This is especially true of the Skeksis, who are needlessly pompous and cruel, and the Mystics who are kind, aloof, and mysteriously magical.Continued below
But while the writing is good, the art of the series really brings it to life. In both the Netflix show and the original movie, the world of The Dark Crystal is expansive, detailed and beautiful. Both Matias Balsa and French Carlomango are able to capture the natural beauty of Thra, making the world feel extensive and lush. Much of Balsa’s art takes place in the wilderness which ranges from verdant and lush to harsh and mysterious, while Carlomango is able to capture the unique creatures and towns of the Gelflings and the Podlings. There are so many moments where it feels like you’re watching the show, experiencing the world of Thra, and in that sense, there’s nothing more that you could want from an adaptation.
But the thing that really makes this comic great is the fact that it’s telling stories that don’t feel like they’re needlessly checking off boxes in some kind of quest to solve every mystery. While you might not necessarily be interested in how the Dual Glaive ended up in Stone-in-the-wood, but the comic makes you care. You might never have wondered how Hup got his aspirations to be a paladin, but the answer is charming and surprising. Both creative teams make this comic a must-read combining wonderful art and a fun story to accompany it. These feel like stories that Jim Henson would be proud of when it comes to The Dark Crystal that is high praise.
How can you read it?
“Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” is published monthly by Boom! Studios. At the moment there are no trades, but you can purchase individual copies from your local comic shop. You can also find this comic at Comixology from Amazon. They are also currently working on a trade copy of “The Quest for the Dual Glaive.” Issue #7 will be wrapping up the misadventures of Hup and his Gelfling mentor and then we will be on to the last and final story. Both sets of creative teams have given us unique stories that help showcase the possibility of Jim Henson’s creation.