"Goosebumps: Download and Die! #3" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Jen Vaughn
Illustrated by Michelle Wong
Colored by Triona Tree Farrell
Lettered by Christa Miesner
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on May 16th, 2018
Mitra's life has been chaotic ever since she received a haunted phone in the mail. This sinister smartphone has altered her personality, making her bitter and mean to her closest friends. It has also led to some injuries and has even created a Mitra doppelganger that's ready to replace her and wreak havoc. Can she break out of the device's spell in time to save herself and her friends?
Well, since this is an all-ages title, you can probably guess what happens. That being said, Goosebumps: Download and Die! wraps up with some pretty creepy imagery. We'll get to the ending in a moment. First, let's delve into the phone and the evil folks that want to get their hands on it. This finale features Slappy and Curly jumping into the spotlight after lurking in the shadows throughout the series to make a grab for the phone. This puts them in direct confrontation with the lizard people that also want it.
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While this is pretty awesome on all fronts, it feels a little rushed. We have to get through this, the doppelganger, who sent Mitra the phone in the first place, and an actual ending for the main characters. This series would have benefited from one more chapter to allow all these elements to be fleshed out a little more. As it stands, we plow through each of them at a super-fast pace, so they don't carry as much weight or hit with as much impact as they could have. This is disappointing as they're all pretty interesting aspects to the story.
As mentioned above, this issue is rather creepy. It's not enough to give your or your kid nightmares, but it does pack some satisfying scares. Artist Michele Wong walks this fine line. One of my favorite sequences is when one of the lizard people literally rips his skin off to reveal the scales underneath. It's presented in a three-panel grid with the middle image the most unsettling of them all, as it features a man's head torn in half with green scales peeking out while he has this eerie smile on his face.
This is heightened by Triona Farrell's colors, casting all of these monsters in an unnatural glow. The lizard people are mostly in shadow, while their yellow eyes pierce through the darkness with an inhuman glare. One small touch that works really well is how Slappy has these dark circles around his eyes. He's a ventriloquist's dummy, which is disturbing enough, but those dark patches give him an even more macabre expression. Either that or he's just super tired and I'm reading it wrong.
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Wong also provides some subtle differences between Mitra and her doppelganger to differentiate them. Of course, the double looks more sinister, lacking the soft, kind elements of Mitra. Even when the two are fighting, you can still gravitate towards the real one. Yes, it helps that she's wearing a hat and her twin is not, but that's beside the point.
Even with this stuffed story, writer Jen Vaughn makes room for character development. She has a real talent for this, crafting real and most importantly relatable drama for these kids. This is represented even in the supernatural elements they come across.
Goosebumps: Download and Die! features more of a cliffhanger ending which is certainly not unheard of in the franchise. It's not a cliffhanger where a character is about to plummet to their doom or something like that. It's more about realizing that their world is completely changed and there could be more to this story. It would warrant a sequel to see where these characters could go next. Maybe next time it's a possessed iPad or a haunted Amazon Echo.