The Power of the Dark Crystal: Volume One: A return to the world of Thra

The Power of the Dark Crystal: Volume One by Simon SpurrierThe Power of the Dark Crystal: Volume One by Simon Spurrier

The Power of the Dark Crystal: Volume One by Simon SpurrierWith the recent release of Netflix’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, a prequel to the original 1982 film, I’ve been treating myself to all the supplementary material that’s been released in the show’s wake. Given that Thra is one of my favourite fantasy worlds (along with Middle Earth and Narnia), it’s been a dream come true to have so much new content.

According to the afterword, The Power of the Dark Crystal was originally written as a script by screenwriters David Odell, Anette Odell and Craig Pearce – though it was never adapted into a feature-length sequel to The Dark Crystal. Thank goodness for graphic novels, another visual medium that has no need for an extensive budget.

Hundreds of years after Jen and Kira restored the missing shard of the crystal and banished the Skeksis, the land of Thra has been at peace under Gelfing rule. But with Jen and Kira lapsing into a magical sleep while Gelfings and Podlings alike bring tribute to the Castle of the Crystal, signs of affliction in the natural world have been ignored.

Then a strange creature appears: a Gelfing-like girl covered in flames, who is on a desperate mission of her own. Called Thurma, and identifying herself as a Fireling who lives in the core of the planet, she’s after a shard of the crystal for precisely the same reason Jen and Kira were all those years before: to save her home.

Helped by a sympathetic Gelfing called Kensho, but condemned by the fanatical Gelfling priests, Thurma’s plea creates an interesting conundrum. Should the Gelfings risk their own safety to save the Fireling home? Or does the Dark Crystal belong to them alone? As in the film itself, this story is interested by themes of duality and co-dependency, with a need to reconcile inner and outer worlds on both literal and figurative levels.

And yes, The Power of the Dark Crystal can’t help but bring back the Skeksis, once more divided from their more angelic counterparts, the Mystics (though didn’t they all blast off into space at the end of the film? This implies they were hanging out in the crystal’s interior all this time).

In any case, it’s a surprisingly complex story with appropriately lush and detailed artwork, especially in its use of colour. Deep blues, bright violets, soft yellows for Thurma and her ever-burning flames – it all looks beautiful. I’m sure I’ll read it again many times before the second volume comes out in paperback!

Published in 2017. An official sequel to Jim Henson’s cult classic fantasy film The Dark Crystal. Years have passed since the Dark Crystal was healed and peace was restored on Thra. Though Jen and Kira have ruled as King and Queen, they have become distracted by power. The planet is sick and those on the surface of Thra are not the only ones effected. A mysterious race of creatures called Firelings live in a realm near the planet’s core, hidden from the Gelfling and their kingdom. A young Fireling named Thurma is tasked with stealing a shard of the Crystal to restore power to her world. Along the way she’ll befriend the young Gelfling Kensho, conjure the Skeksis and Mystics, and embark on one incredible adventure. Written by Simon Spurrier (The SpireX-Men Legacy) and lushly illustrated by Kelly and Nichole Matthews (Toil & Trouble), The Power of the Dark Crystal includes behind-the-scenes materials on the making of this sure to be classic tale of wonder.

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REBECCA FISHER, with us since January 2008, earned a Masters degree in literature at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her thesis included a comparison of how C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman each use the idea of mankind’s Fall from Grace to structure the worldviews presented in their fantasy series. Rebecca is a firm believer that fantasy books written for children can be just as meaningful, well-written and enjoyable as those for adults, and in some cases, even more so. Rebecca lives in New Zealand. She is the winner of the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best SFF Fan Writer.

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