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Stranger Things #1 advance review: Like a good campfire story you won't want to end

Comic Books

Stranger Things #1 advance review: Like a good campfire story you won’t want to end

It’ll pull you in like a horror story around the campfire.

As you might have heard, Stranger Things is getting a comic in September and we’ve got the inside track when it comes to the first issue; we did sit down for an interview with series writer Jody Houser, after all. Be warned as this isn’t a comic book adaptation, but something more!

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!

The nostalgia-igniting hit Netflix original series comes to comic shelves. Follow Will Byers into a dimension of decay and destruction where he must use his wits and resolve to dodge the pursuit of the Demogorgon and escape the Upside Down.

Why does this matter?

We’re all grumbling knowing that we’ll have to wait a year or so for season 3 so why not cozy up and enjoy this to hold you over. It’s also important to note this story focuses on Will’s journey in the Upside Down, revealing his journey through a nightmare world.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

Stranger Things #1 advance review: Like a good campfire story you won't want to end

Run! Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Houser told me this book attempts to look older, like a comic that came out at the time of the story, and it shows in a real way. This helps set up the book as a throwback, which is aided by the references to Dungeons and Dragons and the well-written captions. Houser pulls you into the story quickly, pacing the book with frights and new sights throughout. I was honestly worried about this adaptation since it could be an easy cash grab, but Houser and artist Stefano Martino are delivering a story that feels important to the narrative.

In this first issue, Will confronts something in the shed as we saw in the season one episode (and the preview pages released so far). From here we cut between Will and the rest of his friends, which hammers home an important message about working together or dying alone. This is a horror comic after all and that screams through via the captions from an unknown narrator who happens to be a good scary storyteller.

Martino gives the book a grungy sort of feel which suits the scenes set in the Upside Down. One might argue less is more when it comes to the scary and yet Martino’s rendering of the world makes you want more. There’s slime on the walls and a harsh blue hue (colors by Lauren Affe) that keeps you firmly established in this other world. The realism of the world is rendered well too, but doesn’t shy from some detailed monster reveals either.

Stranger Things #1 advance review: Like a good campfire story you won't want to end

Hmmm nothing there. Credit: Dark Horse Comics

It can’t be perfect can it?

The artist style suits this sort of horror story, but it’s also a bit basic. I enjoyed it, but it definitely looked too simplistic or almost unfinished here and there. There’s a panel where Will looks like he was copy-pasted in, for instance, and the faces can look incomplete on the kids (Dustin looks incredibly strange in a few panels, for instance). There are some great panels throughout though and it never bothered me all that much.

Is it good?

I couldn’t get enough of how well these captions are in this story. They pull you through like a good story around the campfire. Houser and company are making me a believer in this, and hopefully more Stranger Things comics in the future. You’ll do well to pick this up September 26th as it will get you in the right mood for Halloween season.

Stranger Things #1
Is it good?
A strong first issue with excellent captions and a story that pulls you in.
The captions sell this book with a great storyteller vibe
Feels necessary adding to the story
The art has a gritty look that nails a lot of key moments
The art can look unfinished here and there (especially faces)

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