Just in time for spooky season, Dark Horse Comics has a new Stranger Things miniseries out this week, and this time Will gets to be the main character. A nice treat for fans who like the character, especially since he’s usually MIA from the show. In this new series, Will goes on an adventure that ties directly to the late Bob Newby. It’s a story that shows you can build on small crumbs and find incredible treasure.
After reading and reviewing comics for ten years, I’ve learned that creators are buy-on-sight, and for me Greg Pak is one of those creators. Stranger Things: The Tomb of Ybwen #1 opens with Bob giving Will some advice about getting rid of things that haunt you. It’s a reminder of his kind heart, but also how Will and Bob connect due to Will’s terrible interactions with creatures in the Upside Down. Pak makes sure even readers who haven’t seen Stranger Things, or fans who forgot, are caught up on these characters as well as how Will is a bit disconnected from the other kids.
That leads to the very next scene, which features Will and Dustin reflecting on how dating has separated some of the kids too. It’s clear this story could exist as its own little small-town story, but the characters enrich it and allow the show to do some of the character work.
As the story goes on, a few key scenes set up the adventure Will will embark on, check in with key characters, and set up a story worth checking out. Art by Diego Galindo is good, rendering the likenesses of these characters to near photo quality. The art style is pleasing, creating a strong contrast with the backgrounds thanks to colors by Francesco Segala. It almost feels like you’re seeing memories from these characters, either due to the warm glow of the sun through a window behind Will and his mom, or the subtle blur of the back seat in the car Will and Bob are sitting in. One might liken the visual experience to A Scanner Darkly.
Letters by Nate Piekos have a distinctly hand-drawn look that feels natural and suits the grounded visual style. Word balloons tend to have a hand-drawn aesthetic too, and there’s more than one instance of a casually different-looking tale or balloon to mix things up.
If you’re expecting lots of brand new monsters, you may find yourself disappointed. There are certainly flashbacks to beasts, but this issue isn’t about that so much as it is about eerie vibes. It sets in motion a fun adventure for Will that’s worth exploring, in part because it’s an adventure he deserves. It’s also a way to give Bob even more credit and highlight the great work Astin did in the role. Stranger Things: The Tomb of Ybwen has all the makings of the perfect Halloween story with your favorite Netflix characters.
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