"Goosebumps: Download and Die #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Jen Vaughn
Illustrated by Michelle Wong
Colored by Triona Tree Farrell
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on March 28th, 2018
With the way everyone is addicted to their phones, it's about time we got a comic about a haunted mobile device. That's the center of Goosebumps: Download and Die! from IDW Publishing, but there's a lot more to the book than abnormally frightening Snapchat filters. It follows a trio of high school girls who find a new phone with super advanced features that turn out to affect the real world in chilling ways.
Goosebumps: Download and Die! takes time to establish the characters before dropping them into a terrifying situation. Writer Jen Vaughn makes each of the three girls, Mitra, Kyra, and Flips, into real people. There's some interpersonal drama, as Flips is the new girl in town and is starting to come between Mitra and Kyra. These feel like real, everyday problems and that helps make them more relatable.
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Artist Michelle Wong breathes life into these three girls. They look happy and inviting, like they're the smart, sarcastic kids you'd want to be friends with in high school. Wong conveys emotion well, saying so much with a simple glance or a quick look. This is especially true with Mitra, as her jealousy starts to rise. She seems to be the most expressive between this and her relationship with her brother. She has a lot more to say than Kyra and Flips.
Since we become invested in these characters, it heightens the terror when they're put in a horrific situation. Granted, this is an all-ages comic, so it's not like their heads are being ripped off, but there's more than enough here to creep you out. The new phone that Mitra receives anonymously in the mail looks like a technological marvel at first, but there are subtle things that are off. My personal favorite is the battery life indicator. Instead of a neon green bar, it's full of blood and it looks like it swishes around.
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Also, a key indicator that the phone is bad news is the loading screen that features an eerie skull shrouded in red light. I mean, people say bad stuff about their cell phone provider all the time, but it's not inherently evil...right? The apps on the new phone are bizarre and carry a sense of foreboding, particularly the Creeps app. I just know that's going to come back to cause some trouble.
Download and Die! has the right mix of fun and scares that has made the Goosebumps name stand the test of time. There's an entire generation of horror fans that grew up on those young adult novels and this creative team definitely does them justice with this series. It's a great all-ages title that's perfect for new and old fans alike.