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'Stuff of Nightmares' #1 introduces a compelling new horror host
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‘Stuff of Nightmares’ #1 introduces a compelling new horror host

‘Stuff of Nightmares’ #1 offers complex characters in a familiar reanimate-the-dead story.

Horror icon R.L. Stine is back this week with a new horror series called Stuff of Nightmares. It’s the perfect title for a series that features a creepy horror host, gore, and a nightmare-fueled horror tale. For fans of Re-Animator, Stuff of Nightmares explores the horrors of making a new life from scraps.

Set on Cape Cod, Stuff of Nightmares hits home for me as I grew up there. This location ends up being important, partly because it’s set in what has usually been deemed a place to relax and vacation, but if you’ve ever walked its beaches in the winter, you know it’s a cold and chilling place. It’s a smart idea, and while White Horse Beach, where the horrors take place, is actually in Plymouth and not on Cape Cod, I’ll allow it.

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The book opens with a mysterious narrator called The Nightmare Keeper. A.L. Kaplan does a great job with the design, the character’s face shrouded in darkness with only the red frilly part of his jacket visible. He’s got a Dracula vibe, for sure. Colors by Roman Titov highlight the many weird framed objects behind him well. In one image, you understand he is quite creepy and not to be trifled with.

'Stuff of Nightmares' #1 review

Great first page.
Credit: BOOM!

The Nightmare Keeper serves as the host but doesn’t pop into the story until we reach the cliffhanger, and he sets up where we go from here. The main story told is simple, but plays out well. Stine introduces an ambitious writer who wants to be a great reporter but can’t catch her break. With her is a horny boyfriend who hears her out but has only one thing on his mind. Soon they hear a strange sound and investigate.

What makes this story work so well is the complexity of the scientists working on reanimating life. They aren’t evil or wildly insane, but rather truly think they are doing good work. One of the three is certainly a bit off his rocker — you understand that once he starts making choices — but it’s unclear how things will play out once they are confronted.

There are tropes at work here that do make elements feel familiar and thus less interesting. The good guys hear a noise and rush to it, for instance, and one of the scientists seemingly goes a bit mad, having no problem killing to keep his secrets.

Once things get chaotic, blood splatter and monstrous undead enter the story for ample frights. The gore is never too graphic or over the top – the violence is apparent, blood has been splayed all over, but it’s not disturbing. That makes this a safe read for anyone in their teens or up. The content is edgy enough so that it’s not for kiddos, though, and the undead success of Frankie is proof of that. The two-foot-tall reanimated creature is creepy.

If you’re looking for a well-told horror comic that’s perfect for middle-grade readers and up, give Stuff of Nightmares #1 a read. It’s the start of something that feels special, thanks to a unique host who is creepy and instantly intriguing. From the host to the main story, this is R.L. Stine’s best comics work yet.

'Stuff of Nightmares' #1 introduces a compelling new horror host
‘Stuff of Nightmares’ #1 introduces a compelling new horror host
Stuff of Nightmares #1
If you're looking for a well-told horror comic that's perfect for middle-grade readers and up, give Stuff of Nightmares #1 a read. It's the start of something that feels special, thanks to a unique host who is creepy and instantly intriguing. From the host to the main story, this is R.L. Stine's best comics work yet.
Reader Rating1 Vote
8.8
You're going to love The Nightmare Keeper
Main story offers up some fresh characters to react to an impossible situation
A few familiar horror tropes make the main story less original
Plymouth is not Cape Cod!
9
Great
Buy Now

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