Heroes and Villains: ‘Neil Gaiman’s A Study in Emerald’, ‘By Night’, ‘Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation’

Spookiness abounds in this week’s Heroes & Villains! This column has everything: an unexpected genre mashup, a portal to another world, and more! Now, let us journey into mystery! 

I won’t actually be reviewing a Journey into Mystery book this week as there isn’t one currently being published. I can only do so much.

Advance Alert!

A Study In EmeraldNeil Gaiman’s A Study In Emerald
Neil Gaiman (W)
Rafael Albuquerque (W/A)
Dark Horse Comics

Remember back when genre mash-ups were all the rage? Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Swiss Family Robinson vs The Aztec Mummy? Modern classics all in their own right. Well, this mash-up has them all beat!

Originally published is a short story way, way back in 2003, Neil Gaiman decided to put Conan Doyle and Lovecraft in a blender and came up with something decidedly…green. Now jump forward 15 years and some change and we have Dark Horse publishing the graphic novel adaptation of it on June, 27th.

Rafael Albuquerque does a masterful job of expanding the original short to a robust graphic novel. The book unfolds at a reasonable pace, establishing characters, settings, and most importantly, the crime committed. 

If you are interested in picking this book up and you haven’t read the original short story, I implore you to go in cold. As a reader, things come at you in such an organic way (with lots of slime and green tentacles) that you can barely perceive the line between the blending of genres. I found myself reading and rereading pages to soak in every possible detail and the story never went where I expected it to go.

By Night #1
John Allison (W)
Christine Larsen (A)
BOOM! Studios

Out this week from BOOM! Studios (such a fun publisher name to write) is By Night #1 “a story about coming home, discovering identity, and accidentally smashing a hole to another dimension.” Now, I’m fully aware that the publisher’s description is scientifically designed to get me interested in the book and damn, does it ever deliver.

If you’ve ever felt particularly rudderless post-high school (or college), if you ever tried to reconnect with an old friend that you lost touch with, or if you ever secretly hoped to find a portal to another dimension…this is your book.

The art is fun and the script is tight (there was a bit about “urban exploration” that I found especially hilarious), and I really, really dig what this book is doing. 

In Case You Missed It…

Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation #1
Simon Spurrier (W)
Daniel Bayliss (A)

If you’ve ever asked the question, “Do we really need a Jareth origin story?” The answer is “YES. YES WE DO.”

Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios, has the second printing of this book coming out this week and if you’re a fan of the original movie that you were probably, definitely too young to see you owe it to yourself to pick up this book.

I’ve previously written about Archaia’s handling of other Henson properties and it’s safe to say that they really get it. The creative teams on these books feel like they’ve been hand selected by Jim Henson himself with the love they show for the source material. It’s magic!

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