It’s quite possible Stranger Things is the most necessary comic adaptation in a long while. That’s because it focuses on what happened to Will between when he went to the Upside Down and when he returned. Who knows what ghastly things he saw, was chased by, and killed! In this second issue, we get to see a bit of that and more as the comic links what we saw to what Will endured.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Stuck in the mysterious Upside Down, Will Byers is cold, scared and starving. He uses his last bullet to temporarily drive away the Demogorgon. Drawing on lessons learned from D&D, Will hunts for food and supplies to prepare for whatever lies ahead. After discovering he can affect the lights in his family home, brief excitement turns to terror when he realizes he isn’t the only one that wants to break through to the other side. *Written by award-winning comics veteran Jody Houser (Faith, Orphan Black, Mother Panic). *Based on Will’s unseen journey during season 1 of hit Netflix show Stranger Things.
Why does this matter?
This is an officially sanctioned adaptation adding to the main story of season one, which Jody Houser told me just this year at SDCC. That makes this canon and highly important to understand what happened to Will.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
If you’re a fan of the Demogorgon you’re going to love this issue, since Will must not only run from the beast, but attack it. It’s an element of the story that pushes Will in different directions as he attempts to make contact with his friends via his walkie talkie. I haven’t watched season 1 in a long while, but this issue makes me want to rewatch just to figure out where writer Jody Houser is piecing things together. There are key scenes that connect to the show and add context to what we undoubtedly were confused by while watching. This helps add value to the read and make it more cohesive.
Outside of this, Houser continues to play up the role-playing game element with great captions and intercutting with the other boys. This gives the overall story a storybook feel that suits the 80s themes. That includes thought bubbles and artistic style. There’s a dated look to the book that helps align with the show which undoubtedly was going for an 80s vibe.
Art by Stefano Martino keeps you attuned to Will’s state of mind via good expressions and well-placed panel choices. The slimy and grimy look to the Upside Down continues to have that supernatural look that keeps your bewilderment of the world going too. The Demogorgon also has a hulking sort of look that makes it formidable looking.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Will hasn’t done a lot in the Upside Down — it’s amounted to hiding, running away, and being afraid all alone. Don’t get me wrong, that’s about what you’d expect from a little kid in this situation, but so far it’s revealing how Will encountered things in the show more than delivering an adventure all its own. It’s neat to see Will be in places major events happened, or to see how he communicated with his mom, but so far it’s not adding that much.
Is it good?
Another good issue in a series that is a must-read for Stranger Things fanatics and casual fans alike. It doesn’t add too much, but it’s fun to see Will’s side of things.