Review - Stranger Things #1 (@DarkHorseComics)

"And suddenly, somehow...the monsters are real."

If you've seen Stranger Things Season 1, then you're intimately familiar with the crew from Hawkins, Indiana. If you haven't seen it and don't have the time to commit to an entire season, then Stranger Things #1 from Dark Horse Comics is a good primer. The issue is written by Jody Houser, penciled by Stefano Martino, inked by Keith Champagne, colored by Lauren Affe and lettered by Nate Piekos of BLAMBOT.

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.

Houser taps into the Stranger Things zeitgeist very well by essentially summarizing key moments from the first season in the first issue. What's interesting about her approach is that she's providing more of the view from Will Byers' side--something that was only briefly shown at points in the actual show itself. The entirety of the narrative is primarily funneled through Will's stream of thought as he comes to grips with his new reality in the Upside Down and Houser ensures that Will's running crew showcases their personalities. Despite all that, there's still a nagging sense that Stranger Things #1 doesn't really tread new ground in the canon. Houser's dialogue is slick for sure, but the exploration of Will's story feels constrained by having to explain the camaraderie of Will and his friends as a backdrop as to why he's seeking them out for help.

Martino's pencils are effective at capturing the essence of the characters' likeness, although there's a certain minimalist approach to the artwork. The style gives the book something of an ethereal nature which is perfect tonally for a book like Stranger Things #1 as it informs the reader of hellish dreamscape that Will finds himself in. Champagne's inks are subtle in a way that allows all the characters and settings to sort of blend together. The really simple panel layout affords the reader a simple read and a story that's easy to keep up with. Affe's colors are washed-out to reinforce the nature of the Upside Down.

Stranger Things #1 is a fun diversion for fans of the series as it provides a bit more insight into the plight of the character who seems to be at the center of it all. Will is trapped in the Upside Down with no discernible way out and a group of friends fighting for his life. Houser's story is fast-moving and hits all the high notes of the series it's based on. The illustrations by Mrtino and Champagne are solid and do a good job of capturing the essence of the show's aura. Stranger Things #1 is worth checking out if you're a fan of the series or never saw it and are looking for a summation of it.

Stranger Things #1 is available September 26.