With the success of the Netflix original series Stranger Things, it’s no surprise that Dark Horse felt the need to make a comic to go along with it. But how does the change to a graphic adventure hold up against the highly acclaimed show?
Honestly, it’s a bit of a slow burn at the start. Warning: Minor spoilers for both the show and the comic to follow.
Stranger Things #1 follows Will Byers and his time in the Upside Down. It begins with the moment he runs from his house into the shed and disappears from the real world. The thing about this first issue is that aside from what it shows us going on in his head, none of what we see is really anything we don’t already know, it’s just from his point of view, rather than the viewer’s. That’s not to say what’s here is bad, it still intrigues you to know what happens next, but it feels like a waste of an issue.
Everything that happens in the first issue could easily be summed up in a few pages. The issue left me wanting more because I pretty much knew, or understood what I was reading because it’s already happened in the show. Granted, I suppose the comic needs to set itself up, assuming everyone reading it hasn’t watched the show? But come on. It’s Stranger Things! If you haven’t watched the show, you could probably give a shit about the comic… but I digress.
While the story might be familiar, the way it’s written carries the comic at a solid, steady pace. It’s primarily a narrator chronicling what is happening to Will or what is going on in his head, but it carries the story enough where you don’t get bored with it. Of course, there is a great cliffhanger at the end that makes you wish you had the second issue to dive into.
The art is fitting for the theme of the comic. Flat, dark colors do a good job of setting the tone for the Upside Down. Meanwhile, certain dialogue compliments the bright, childish drawings of things happening in Will’s head and does a good job of conveying how the mind of a kid might views things.
Overall, while this issue gets off to a rocky, slow start, it does a good job setting up what’s to come. While I wish they had just jumped right into the action, I can understand the need to make sure everyone is on the same page by retreading familiar territory.