We’re used to panel-based sequential art here at Bigger Than Capes. Simon Stalenhag has dispensed with panels completely in The Labyrinth, instead providing full pages of gloriously detailed art. And this is wonderful stuff, each one worthy of putting on your wall. The first few pages alone could each be the covers for a 60s sci-fi book. Not that this feels retro – I feel a hint of nostalgia, references to what has gone before, but this is its own beast. The scenes range from large ruined landscapes, details of chairs and telephones, close-ups of frying pans and mysterious giant metal creatures.
The words are presented on separate pages to the art, a few paragraphs in a square in the centre of the page. The story is told first-person by Sigrid, who works at Granhammar doing research with her brother Matt.
In this post-apocalyptic dystopia, strange black globes have forced humanity indoors by poisoning the planet with toxins, beating us to the punch as a species. The story hints at other strangeness: the remains of the aforementioned giant metal creatures, the unusual plant life that has emerged, the history slowly revealing itself.
Charlie is a teenager. His behaviour was getting out of hand so he’s been sent to join the Granhammer expeditions out into the wastelands, where he knows Matt and Sigrid, in the hope that this will help. This is where I stop telling you about specific plot details.
This is an interesting and dark piece that leaves you to fill in some blanks while clearly filling in others. It asks questions about the choices we make, and whether we can be forgiven for them. I wasn’t familiar with Simon Stalenhag before this but will be checking out some of his other work now.