About a week ago someone reminded me of David Bowie's statements about Jareth. Bowie had said that Jareth rather reluctantly inherited the position of goblin king. And he would rather be somewhere like Soho so he's making the best of things.
I think Bowie imagines Jareth as being someone who would rather live in the human world as an Avant Garde singer or something at run down obscure night clubs and happy with that humble life, but he was thrown into the role of goblin king against his will. Part of why volume 4 of Return to Labyrinth doesn't feel right, I think, is because it contradicted Bowie's statements on Jareth's back story and how Bowie saw Jareth.
It's VERY disrespectful to ignore Bowie's views of the character when he had such a huge hand in the conception of the version of Jareth we saw in the film. Those were his songs, he improvised many of the lines. But we're going to contradict him now in official canon in regard to why Jareth is goblin King? This doesn't feel right to me.
Return to Labyrinth Volume 4's plot in a nutshell:
Warning: Here there be spoilers.
(Warning, I know the plot is a little more complicated than this but I am simplifying it to reveal some of the weaker plot points).
Weak Point 1:
It turns out Sarah was allowing her dreams to wither and die because she had been rejected from Juliard so to save Sarah's dreams and Jareth's own Labyrinth (which was crumbling) he had Mizumi create Moppet out of Sarah's dreams. Absorb this. Sarah gave up on her dreams and was starting to let them die- the tenacious Sarah who refused to be defeated- was letting all her dreams die because of ONE rejection letter. Terrence Mann (the Broadway star) was once quoted as saying that if you give up after the first rejection that you don't REALLY want to be an actor at all. Surely with a Broadway star mother Sarah should have realized it wasn't all going to be easy!
Anyway, it turns out ablations can only be made from aspects of a person that the person doesn't really want to have anymore. So that's how Moppet came to be. But dreams can't be held captive for long or they die. So as an act of love Jareth released Moppet but not before erasing her memories of captivity... for some reason that has no real explanation at all...
Weak Point 2: I have already complained about this but I'll keep it short. A major plot point is foreshadowed through Toby saying that there are 'two types of fantasy stories.' And it turns out Sarah told him this. To me this is contrary to the idea of a true fantasy lover. A true fantasy lover would not generalize fantasy so far as to say 'There are two types of fantasy' which 'unintentionally' implies that there are only two types of fantasy. He doesn't use the word only but it felt like he might as well have.
Anyway, Jareth reveals the events to Sarah via a puppet show. While this is going on Mizumi has taken over the Labyrinth but still cannot will Jareth's heart.
Weak Point 3:
We are given a weak back story on how Jareth became the goblin King. Apparently Jareth and Mizumi were lovers but Jareth had no real interest in Mizumi because she was a passive, willing slave and that was not what Jareth really wanted. He wasn't interested in someone who was subservient and unimaginative. During their travels they end up in a swampy area for a while where Jareth is 'amused' by the goblins that inhabit it. While there Mizumi pleads for the chance to win Jareth's heart so Jareth creates his Labyrinth and tells her that if she solves it she can have his heart. Because the Labyrinth represents himself, his heart is the pathfinder (the very core of the Labyrinth).
The condition is if she fails to solve it she can't let any harm come to it because it IS a part of Jareth. (But... Um... wasn't she technically letting harm come to it in Volume 3?)
Also this contradicts what David Bowie has said about Jareth, that Jareth reluctantly inherited the role of Goblin King and would rather be down in Soho somewhere.
Bowie didn't just say that Jareth doesn't like being Goblin King. Bowie did use the words 'reluctantly inherited the title.' meaning he didn't become Goblin King by choice. Until Volume 4 I thought Jake was using what everyone involved with the original film wanted as a basis, it's easy to research what they all thought because it's right on the DVD. I can't disregard Mr. Bowie's views on his own character when he's one of the main forces behind the version of Jareth we know.
I am sorry. I do love the manga over all. Please know this. I can practically hear the melody for Shadow of a Dream and it's a beautiful song but volume 4 just didn't satisfy me for multiple reasons. The manga's back story for Jareth didn't take into account what Bowie said. He didn't just say that he doesn't like the role of goblin king but that he reluctantly inherited the title.
Weak Point 4: The lizards have almost no purpose at all. They just leave you going 'Well, that was kind of pointless.'
It turns out Moulin is an ablation of Mizumi's regret. And if you make the original source of the ablation feel or gain the attribute that the ablation represented than the ablation is free to be a separate being. Moulin forces Mizumi to feel regret without actually being a part of her so the two can exist separately however Mizumi kills her anyway in a plot point that doesn't really go anywhere except to show how cruel Mizumi can be. But in a later scene it's like the writing is trying to force us to feel for Mizumi. And it feels sort of bipolar.
Sarah seems to gain new dreams but for some reason or another still rejoins with Moppet and Moppet seems happy about this even though everything she was and all her memories are gone forever. So there was really no point at all in showing that an ablation can be made to exist as a real person away from it's host.
Jareth agrees to help set things right in The Labyrinth IF Sarah agrees to marry him. She kisses his forehead. That's the 'true loves kiss' in the prophecy, a little peck on the forehead.
Jareth sets things right and then reminds Sarah of her promise to marry him.
Weak Point 5: Toby's life lesson felt like an 'I learned something today' segment from South Park. It took up several pages and it felt sort of tacked on. Also I had thought the speech in Toby's play would prove to be important later on but it wasn't. It didn't have any significant purpose like Sarah's 'You have no power over me.' speech. But Toby's life lesson somehow leads to Jareth saying that everyone may go home.
Weak Point 6: Remember how Hana was homicidal about getting her wings back? I imagine for a pixie to lose her wings it's like a singer whose tongue has been ripped out or a dancer whose legs are chopped off. It's rather important to them if they can get these lost and painfully removed appendages put back.
Hana was bitter and resentful about having lost her wings. She even poisoned the punch bowl at Jareth's ball in volume one of Return to Labyrinth. Well, Jareth gave Toby a magical crystal orb as a reward for helping him. So Toby goes to give Hana her wings (because he's 'learned to be responsible') but he misses and the wings end up on Stank, her small puppy-like variation on Ludo. And she says 'Good enough!' No, not good enough. Was that supposed to be funny? She was devastated about her wings being ripped off but she's okay because they're now on the creature she rides? That's like a man in a wheelchair but if the wheelchair sprouts working legs that makes it ALL better! This scene felt like a total fail to me.
So Toby learns his 'lesson' and Sarah goes on to become a children's book writer instead of 'just a teacher' because apparently you can't be fulfilled teaching others...
But Toby's somehow (though it's not really shown, it's told) learned responsibility. Sarah has dreams again. Jareth is king again. This is something I feared. It felt like an attempt to appease everyone and it appeased almost no one. Jareth and Sarah definitely love each other as proved by the anti-climatic true love's kiss but they didn't end up together, which was meant to appease those who didn't want them together but at the same time appease those that feel that there is true love between Jareth and Sarah.
So if that was true love's kiss (as the prophecy required) that means Sarah, for no reason at all, abandoned her one true love and not only is everyone okay with that but it's the ending her 'no longer selfish brother' preferred. Talking your sister (somehow) into leaving behind her true love seems pretty selfish if you ask me.
I like the manga in general, particularly Shadow of a Dream in Volume 3, but I don't like Volume 4 very much.