The Power of the Dark Crystal (November 2017) comic review

Rated: 1.5 / 5

So in case you didn’t know, The Dark Crystal is my favorite movie of all time.  I love everything about it: the music, the practical effects, the old-school special effects, the simple story, the creatures, the lore, the philosophy, etc.  I love practically everything about that movie.  So I was a bit intrigued (and extremely skeptical) when I learned that Netflix was going to do a prequel to the film via a Netflix produced series.  Well, my hopes were dashed a few weeks ago when I got a hold of this comic.  Why should they be dashed?  Because I fucking hate this comic.  What does that have to do with the prequel Netflix series outside of being based on the same film?  Nothing, I just think it’s going to suck.

This comic does everything I dread having a sequel do.  It relies way too much on the prior entry it is extending (while this may be a comic, it’s a sequel to a film).  You know, like The Force Awakens.  This is a fatal flaw that makes the work incapable of standing on it’s own.  If you want an example of a sequel done right, look at The Godfather Part II (while a sequel that has the same characters from the last film, it continues the plot without too many call-backs to the first, and evolves the characters in natural ways, and contains enough original material to stand on its own), Aliens and Terminator 2 (while it does follow a similar pattern to the original film, with a similar last act of escape and blowing it out the airlock, it expanded the lore of the alien/robot creatures, had more backstory given to the protagonist which ties into events of this film, and utilizes the similar beats in a more action-oriented setting rather than a horror-oriented setting to give it a different feel and makes it its own thing), The Empire Strikes Back.  They all possess their own unique moments that make them stand out from their predecessors while not copy-catting them too much, if at all.

But not this comic book.  It has virtually all (and I mean ALL) of the problems The Force Awakens had.  Also problems that 2011’s The Thing had (those assholes couldn’t even add a fucking number to the title, or a letter, or anything, so now it’s more difficult to distinguish from the title alone which film you’re watching).  Not to mention that Brian Froud (if I remember correctly) was firmly against there being a sequel to The Dark Crystal.  The story was told.  It was done.  It didn’t need a sequel, it left nothing open for a sequel.  Anything that follows was meant to be left up to the viewer’s imagination (that thing Hollywood doesn’t remember anyone has).  Plus the theme was wrapped up, how the crystal was cracked because of the urSkeks’ pride and folly, a lesson they have learned from when they became reunited.

From here on, I’m assuming you’ve already seen The Dark Crystal, and don’t give a shit about me spoiling the events of what happen in this comic.

First of all, this film begins with the same goddamn opening narrative that the movie did.  Motherfucker, you should assume people reading this already know about this!  And if they don’t, encourage them to go watch the original movie!  This isn’t fucking Star Wars where everyone is ok with the opening intro, “A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…”

So right away I was getting a bit annoyed and worried when it was doing callbacks like that.  But this thing is just getting started.

So we get a new race introduced (just one character from that race).  Fire people.  This fire child needs to break the crystal open, take a shard, and take it to the core of the planet to restore her people, which will supposedly result in the destruction of the rest of the world.  But their time seems limited anyway, since the crystal doesn’t burn as brightly as it used to, because I guess the crystal is supposed to have a limited lifespan which must be rejuvenated by breaking it apart, taking it to the planet’s core, and restoring it to its glory while wiping out practically everything else.


Alright, I’m not going to lie.  While I am a fan of the film, I’m not a fanatical fan.  I don’t think I’ve ever been a fanatical fan of anything, despite what some reviews of some movies may lead you to believe.  If I’m a fanatic of anything, it’s regarding entertainment in general in the movie/series/books department.  I want to experience things that bring me joy; and let the others that don’t bring me joy, or disgrace the material they are based on, suffer my wrath so that I can feel better about myself (you know, constructive criticism disguised as destructive criticism).  Either way I’d like to get some joy out of the experience.  The point I’m trying to make is that I haven’t ever gone in-depth with the Dark Crystal lore.  I haven’t read every spin-off novel/comic, I haven’t read The World of the Dark Crystal in its entirety (though I enjoy the snippets I do read of the latter).  Because I believe there are some things that should be left to the imagination.  And if someone thinks otherwise, that they wish to explain things so that there are less things left to the imagination, then they had better know what they’re doing.  Because if they don’t, there’s going to be hell to pay.

So I don’t know if the Firechild was something brought up in The World of the Dark Crystal.  I don’t know if the crystal was meant to have limited power that would run out (because I guess getting powered by the 3 suns, by the conjunction, isn’t enough apparently).  What I do know is that the execution of these ideas is terrible.  Some firechild (emphasis on the “child” part) gets sent to explain her people’s plight and take the shard by force if she must.  Out of all the schmuks they have in their race, and they fucking send her?  Her!?  The girl who stumbles over her own words and seems to be new at just about everything?  Who is careless with her powers?  Christ, at least they had a decent explanation for sending Jen out into the world to set things right rather than anyone else, because he was all the hippy Ur-Ru had.  The main reason the writers seem to have done it this way is to have the firechild be exactly like Jen, only female, and stronger with more passion and character.  With similar hippies raising her to be the chosen one for a journey.  The only difference is the race and the context.

Second, the Gelflings certainly seem to have repopulated the world quite easily, and established social and political hierarchies.  After only 100 years.  I’m calling bullshit on that.  This is taking the easy way out to construct a traditional formula that we’ve seen done thousands of times in mainstream films/shows to make a socio-political message.  The Gelflings are back, repopulated, and running the show, in control of the crystal, and have low-class and upper-class people that are looked down and up upon respectively.  And it’s the lower-class that is looked down upon that are the chosen protagonists for the story.  A “child” of fire, a young Gelfling boy who is treated poorly by the upper-class of Gelflings.  What the hell has happened to this Dark Crystal world?  Why is this shit in a Dark Crystal tale?

Anyway, the firebitch does end up breaking the crystal (partly to spite the upper-class/religious asshole gelflings).  Which results in the skeksies and ur-ru to come back, as we all remember them from the last film.  Relying on the original source much?  But why would the skeksies and ur-ru come back when they’re supposed to be one as the urSkeks?  Why is it that the comic thinks things are supposed to work that way?  Because that seems to retcon a few details provided in the movie itself, nevermind Brian Froud’s The World of the Dark Crystal.  Oh, it gets better.  The skeksies throw a hissie fit at the chamberlain again, making him some-what outcast, and thus putting him in the exact same fucking position that he was in the movie, whimpering, and pursuing the two lead protagonists through much of the story.  Oh, right, and the Garthim show up, just like that.  Except the Garthim are now controlled by Jen (who wields the scepter, which I guess controls the Garthim), which he uses to pursue the firechild and the lower-class gelfling.

“What if” art concept that had some alterations for the final product.

This is just volume 1, which is supposed to be a collection of 4 issues, out of a 12 issue series, which means there are 2 more volumes set to come out later this year.  And I have no desire to read them.  I’ll read other reviews and stuff, but I consider this sequel series to be a disgrace, and am glad the planned movie adaptation didn’t come to fruition.  It has too many call-backs to the movie making this less capable of standing on its own.  The plot is dumb.  And it brings in socio-political stuff that isn’t utilized well enough to make it fit into this fantasy world.  Dune this is not (and was never intended to be).

The only sections that got me invested were when Jen and Aughra were conversing with the firechild and attempting to understand her position and grapple with the state/fate of the world.  But those moments are brief and fleeting.

A part of me wants to write (aka bitch) about this some more, but I’m going to reign myself in and leave it at that.  If you want to read a decent Dark Crystal spin-off comic, read the 3 Creation Myths comics.  Sure they’re not perfect, but they do enough to be their own thing and offer some interesting insights as a prequel series (which I believe the Netflix series will be based on).  I don’t agree with everything that is brought up, particularly in volume 3, but they’re nowhere near the disaster of this sequel.   There’s also one other prequel comic series titled Song/Shadow of the Dark Crystal, but I haven’t read them… yet.  I’ve heard the Netflix series is supposed to be based on those (mainly because the writer of those comics is involved with the writing of the prequel Netflix series).  There’s also a manga series (believe it or not) that I also haven’t read titled Legends of the Dark Crystal, a 2 volume manga series (which is miraculous considering how long most manga series go). #NotMySequel  #FuckTheSequel

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