Early last year Archaia released The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths, the first of a planned three-volume prequel to the enduringly popular Jim Henson fantasy film about a young hero's quest to restore a magical crystal and unify a long divided race of powerful beings before the more malevolent of them could take control of the world forever. I'd previously been wary of any comic identified as a "prequel" to a film, television series or game. Often they're not even "prequels" in the strictest sense, but actually preludes; and often they're just bad. That was most definitely not the case with Archaia's Dark Crystal prequel comic, which was one of my most pleasant surprises when it came out in December 2011.

Created with Brian Froud, the concept designer who worked closely with directors Jim Henson and Frank Oz and screenwriter David Odell to create the world of The Dark Crystal, Archaia's Creation Myths Volume 1 is a true graphic novel and a fantasy epic that in some respects eclipses the original film. The second volume goes on sale this week and you can read more about it and check out some preview pages below.

Lavishly illustrated by Alex Sheikman and Lizzy John from a script by Brian Holguin, Creation Myths Volume 1 focused on the origin of Aughra, the eccentric one-eyed astronomer lady seen in the original film. As it turns out, she is not only eons and eons old but is in fact the essence of the world itself, which is identified officially as Thra. Further, she had a son called Raunip. A creation of Froud's especially for the graphic novel, Raunip is the series' primary hero, growing from a kind of trickster into a rebel, defying his mother's acceptance of the strange beings from another world who built a fortress around the heart of Thra -- the titular crystal, which they seem to be using for some mysterious purpose. Volume 1 tracks Raunip's growth over the course of centuries while the other races of Thra -- such as the Gelflings seen in the film -- evolve and thrive, generating heroes of their own who have parts to play in Volume 2.

Again illustrated by Sheikman and John but this time with a script by BPRD: 1947 and Unknown Soldier writer Joshua Dysart, the second volume of Creation Myths maintains the same level of intense fantasy drama. Raunip and Augrah discover the truth about the beings who are destined to split into the Mystics and the Skeksis of the original film, and we see exactly how that terrible event comes to pass.

Everything about this series from the deliciously overwrought style of narration, the intricate artwork, the lettering, the weight of the pages, the texture of the cover, even its title -- Creation Myths -- is imbued with the kind of elaborate, towering hugeness that I think many of us remember gleaning from the Dark Crystal film as kids. I'm not sure that quality remains when you view the movie as an adult, but it's certainly abundant in these most lovely graphic novels.

Also featuring a detailed remembrance by screenwriter David Odell, the extremely handsom Dark Crystal: Creation Myths Volume Two hardcover goes on sale in finer comics shops this Wednesday. It'll be available in bookstores March 12. Both volumes are available right now in digital form from ComiXology.