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The Garthim Wars: Legends of the Dark Crystal Volume 1    by Barbara Randall Kesel, Heidi Arnhold & Max Kim order for
Garthim Wars
by Barbara Randall Kesel
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

I remember when I was really little, going to see the movie The Dark Crystal and my dad having to take me out after fifteen minutes because I was so scared of the puppets. Having read the first volume of Barbara Randall Kesel, Heidi Arnhold, and Max Kim's manga prequel, Jim Henson's Legends of the Dark Crystal: The Garthim Wars, I can see, through Arnhold and Kim's true-to-the-movie artwork, how some of the characters scared me as a little kid, although I do not find this epic fantasy frightening any longer.

Gelfling villages are being attacked by giant, bug-like beasts called Garthim. Lahr, a lowly, flute-playing shepherd, manages to save himself by stabbing a Garthim with a flute. As he journeys to find another village, he meets up with Neffi, a weaver who was away from her village when it was attacked. Together, the two journey to the next Gelfling village, which has the advantage of being in a cave. With only their shepherding and weaving skills, they must help the other Gelflings defend their home from the Garthims who are collecting Gelflings for the evil Skeksis. However, it is not an easy task to get a peaceful people, who lack weapons, to fight.

While I do not remember much of the film, the character designs are very true to Henson's originals. Arnhold and Kim put a lot of detail into the scary Skeksis. The backgrounds - something that most American manga artist keep simple except for large splash pages -also incorporate great detail. The illustrations do get a little weak on some distant shots of the Gelflings, though.

The story in The Garthim Wars is easy to follow, even when it does jump between Lahr and Neffi and then to the Skeksis. The ending neatly closes up one problem, but leaves a new quest open for the next. Fans of The Dark Crystal will not be disappointed with Jim Henson's Legends of the Dark Crystal Vol. 1: The Garthim Wars.

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