"Stranger Things #3" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Jody Houser
Illustrated by Stefano Martino
Inked by Keith Champagne
Colored by Lauren Affe
Lettered by Nate Piekos
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on November 28th, 2018
Will Byers is trapped in the Upside Down, running from the Demogorgan. You've heard this story before, but not from this perspective. How did Will survive in this creepy reflection of our world while his friends and loved ones were searching for him in all the wrong places?
Stranger Things is the perfect TV show to come into comics, although this isn’t exactly the story I was hoping to get from them. Will's tale of survival is interesting and all, but it's really just retreading what we know or can piece together from the first season. It really serves as a companion, meant to be read alongside the show. Since the first season came out a while ago, this feels like it missed the boat.
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This isn't said to take away from Will's strife. He's a little kid trapped in a nightmare world, hunted by a terrifying monster. It's amazing he didn't just curl up into a ball and die. Instead, he used his wits and never gave up, even when all hope seemed lost.
That's what really gets through in Stranger Things. There are these moments where Will hears his mother or sees someone from the real world and they're just out of reach. That is an immeasurable amount of heartbreak to be so close to safety only to have it pulled away each and every time. The tears streaming down his face are not the first he's shed, nor will they be the last.
Since comics don't have sound in the same way movies or TV do, they rely on other ways to frighten you. You can't play a weird noise and expect people to be afraid of it. You can, however, create that ominous atmosphere with some well-placed word balloons. That's what letterer Nate Piekos did. There are times where Will hears something, but can't make it out. What we see is a word balloon with scribbles in it, which has the same effect as strange sound in a TV show.
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The Upside Down is just as creepy as you'd think it would be. Artist Stefano Martino and colorist Lauren Affe painted a dreary landscape devoid of all life save for this little boy and the monster that wants to eat him. Strange growths appear on everything, like the houses and trees haven't been touched in ages. There's an eerie blue shade to this world, making it feel cold and desolate.
While I'm not crazy that this is the story we're getting in a Stranger Things comic, I am glad it exists. Writer Jody Houser has fleshed out a character that we didn't really get to know in the TV show's debut season. We learn more about his background and his personality when he was little more than an empty chair in the show. As mentioned above, this is a great companion to the TV series so diehard fans will greatly enjoy it.