‘Stranger Things #1:’ Advance Comic Book Review

The '80s were awesome: Dungeons & Dragons, government conspiracies, secret labs held by evil corporations, parallel universes, strange paranormal powers, monsters escaping into our world, Midwestern small town mysteries involving children, and rad synthesized music scores.

In 2016, a new television show exclusive to Netflix gave us all of that… plus Winona Ryder. When Stranger Things came about, Generation X time-traveled back into their childhood, and a whole new audience discovered what made entertainment in the '80s so much fun. With the wild success of two seasons of Stranger Things and a slew of award nominations, a mass of collectibles followed, and now the tale has leapt into comics. The show seemed to beg to make the transition to the comic book page in all of its nostalgic glory.

MINOR SPOILERS BELOW

Stranger Things #1 gives the reader the story from the perspective of Will Byers, the young boy who went missing in the first season of the television show. We read his journey through the “upside-down,” with flashbacks of playing Dungeons & Dragons with his friends. The constant theme throughout is that one cannot survive alone. This is a great moral for the comic, if not a bit overstated at times. Still, it carries the same weight that it did in the show.

There is an unidentified narrator for the story who weaves the tale in a beautiful horror style. Characters retain their personalities from the show to the comic, which is always comforting with such familiar characters. The pacing remains consistent and fast, keeping the reader running and hiding with Will from the Demogorgon. It fills in some gaps and bridges Will’s side of the events, which is nice to round out the story. Because very little (if anything) is explained, readers unfamiliar with the show might be left wondering what the comic is about.

The art in the comic is outstanding – a throwback with a true '80s feel. Between the blue hues, the illustrations, and the lettering, it feels like a comic written in that time. There are other things to suggest the '80s, from little nuances like the Jaws poster in the background to Will’s Poltergeist attempt to reach his family through the television. All of this helps to capture the magic of the television show. The slime on the walls and the menacing sight of the Demogorgon also lend a nice level of horror.

Stranger Things #1 is the first in a four-part series, all following Will Byers’ story. It is a great start to the events that happen in the upside-down during the first season of the television series. Even though fans of the show already know the ending, it will be interesting to see where his tale goes from here and watch other beloved characters come to life.


Creative Team: Jody Houser (writer), Stefano Martino (pencils), Keith Champagne (inks), Lauren Affe (colors), Aleksi Briclot (cover art)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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