While director Jim Henson’s puppet-populated fantasy film, Labyrinth, flopped at the box office in 1986, posterity has treated it far better, appreciating its fantastical, pre-CGI otherworldly settings, and, notably, the enigmatic performance of the late David Bowie as its duplicitous, baby-napping antagonist, Jareth the Goblin King. Now, an upcoming comic book series from Boom! Studios will finally tell the character’s origin tale.
Set to be titled Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, the comic book series, published by Boom! Studios under its Archaia imprint, will arrive as the creation of writer Simon Spurrier and artist Daniel Bayliss, reports EW. Here, the intriguing, centuries-spanning backstory of Jareth will be illustrated, explaining how the spontaneously-singing, bouffant-rocking, owl-transforming manipulator of dreams first arrived in the Labyrinth itself, coming into power in a world that was completely alien to him.
The Jim Henson Company CEO Lisa Henson – daughter of the late Jim – discusses the comic’s direction, revealing a potentially crucial aspect about the character dubbed the Goblin King, explaining:
“The Goblin King, he’s not a goblin, he’s human. Many people have asked, ‘Well, how did he get there?’ So, that’s something that we thought we would explore.”
However, expect Jim Henson’s Labyrinth to anchor itself firmly within the mythology of the movie. That’s because the comic series will reportedly use the backdrop of the film as a wraparound story in which Jareth recounts his tale. The film depicts Jennifer Connelly’s teenage character Sarah making a hasty wish for the Goblin King to take away her incessantly-crying baby brother, Toby; a mistake she quickly tries to rectify in a rescue effort of the infant, which requires a perilous navigation through the Goblin King’s maze. In the comic, Jareth will narrate his own origin tale to a captive baby Toby, revealing his early beginnings in 18th century Venice with his mother and father.
Thus, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth will focus on characters who were crucial during Jareth’s journey towards his metamorphosis into the powerful Goblin King. Describing the narrative process as “having our cake and eating it,” writer Spurrier reveals the character-building aspects of the comic and how they relate to the persona that Bowie embodied in the film, explaining:
“The ‘Bowie form’ version of the character is very much present in our story. But there’s a huge amount of stuff about the people who loved him and he loved. What happened to them? How did this all shake out? How did he come to be who he is? I hope that by exercising both sides of that picture, as well as leaning into all the other amazing things that are fantastic about the Labyrinth as a concept, we should hopefully get our Bowie itch scratched while also enjoying the fantastical, surreal wonder of this world.”
Interestingly, the comic book series won’t be the only revival of the classic 1986 film on the horizon, since a spinoff movie, set to be directed by Don’t Breathe and Evil Dead horror helmer Fede Alvarez, is in the works, attempting to evolve the movie mythology with a focus on new characters.
Jim Henson’s Labyrinth #1 will avoid being delayed in the Bog of Eternal Stench for a release date in February 2018. There will be a retail version of the debut issue featuring a cover by Fiona Staples, a subscription cover by Rebekah Isaacs and variant covers by Laurent Durieux, Jill Thompson, and Bill Sienkiewicz.