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Stranger Things: Six #1 advance review: Step back into Hawkins Laboratory

A Stranger Things prequel that opens strong.

Possibly one of the most interesting parts of Stranger Things is the facility that did testing on Eleven. At the start, it seemed like a hospital, or an innocent enough government facility trying to help Eleven and other characters. In season two we learned that wasn’t the case at all, but it was a facility testing and possibly even creating children with superpowers. Dark Horse Comics aims to reveal a whole lot more about this facility in their new prequel series, Stranger Things: Six, with its first issue hitting comic shops May 29th, 2019.

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So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

A teenage girl with precognitive abilities, has struggled through a lifetime of exploitation only to end up the pawn of a government agency that wants to harness her powers for its own ends. You’ve seen the show Stranger Things, but this is your first glimpse of the strangeness that happened before the series began!

Why does this matter?

Jody Houser is back to writing stories within this universe after the successful Stranger Things comic revealing what Will was up to during the series. That comic did well to give readers a little extra info about the events, but now it appears we’re going to get a heck of a lot more. Stranger Things: Six is a prequel series and given its title it sounds like we’ll learn a lot about a girl who went through the program as their sixth applicant.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

Dr. Brenner is a big part of this prequel series.
Credit: Dark Horse

This is a spoiler free review, so I’ll do my best to tell you why this first issue, and ultimately the series, is bound to be so good. First and foremost, this series isn’t shackled to the main premise of the first season of the show like Houser’s previous series was. Instead, this series explores a different girl who is going through an earlier period of testing at the facility we see Eleven in. This lets Houser introduce this new teenage character and also reveal things about the government facility we had no idea about. Stranger Things season 2 showed us there are varying degrees of mind powers, as we saw with Eight. Considering there are multiple numbers yet to be revealed, and that Six is the main character of this story, one can assume seeing new powers and understanding why might be in the cards.

I can say with certainty it’s a lot of fun reading this and trying to figure out who might a character be. As we know from the variant covers, Dr. Brenner does, in fact, pop up in this series. The cold-hearted monster is well worth a bit more fleshing out and I’m excited to see how Houser integrates the character. Since this is a prequel series one has to assume characters we know, younger versions of them might pop up too. It’s a series bound to have super-fans eager for more. This first issue also keeps your interest up in other ways and you’ll be on the edge of your seat for answers to the mysteries introduced here. As the press release in February states, “Wracked by increasingly disturbing visions, she sees an opportunity to change her life. But at what cost?” which adds a good deal of mystery to this first issue. I ended up feeling invested and more interested in the main characters life outside of Hawkins Laboratory which is both sad and complicated.

The art by Edgar Salazar with inks by Keith Champagne and colors by Marissa Louise are well done, creating a sense of reality one would expect from a live action show. The color palette is a bit monotone and that keeps the story feeling realistic and at times somewhat scary. This is a horror series after all, and you get that vibe even from the most innocent of panels. Salazar’s lines are a bit sharper and more refined than the previous series artist, helping to keep the comic moving and pleasing to the eye.

Will Eleven appear in this series?
Credit: Dark Horse

It can’t be perfect, can it?

I have this slight worry that any reveals, and other moments to clarify things are going to be few and far between. I’m sure the Duffer Brothers are giving Houser and Dark Horse Comics something to work with, but this issue doesn’t really give us anything we don’t know already save for who Six was (or is, who knows if she’ll be in season 3!). If you’re looking for a lot of answers you need to curb your expectations.

Is it good?

Go back to Hawkins Laboratory in this well written, well drawn, and interesting prequel series. I can say with certainty this book is well worth reading — it adds to the TV show in surprising and satisfying ways.

Stranger Things: Six #1
Is it good?
Go back to Hawkins Laboratory in this well written, well drawn, and interesting prequel series. I can say with certainty this book is well worth reading -- it adds to the TV show in surprising and satisfying ways.
A well written protagonist and good pacing keeps your interest all the way through
The art is sharp and realistic reminding you this is all deadly serious
Those hunting for answers and reveals about the series should curb expecations

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