REVIEW: ‘Stranger Things: Six,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Stranger Things: Six #1

With a little over a month away until season three of Stranger Things premieres on Netflix and if you just can’t wait to be transported back to the town of Hawkins, then Dark Horse has you covered. Stranger Things: Six #1 one is published by Dark Horse Comics, written by Jodi Houser, penciled by Edgar Salazar, inked by Keith Champagne, colored by Marissa Louise,  with letters by Nate Piekos of BLAMBOT.

The prequel series opens up in 1970 with a mother and her daughter Francine driving down a dark, country road in a heavily wooded area. The young girl, who is absentmindedly playing with her doll freezes during a conversation and screams for the car to stop as if their life depended on it. The car comes to a screeching halt, but the road is clear, absolutely nothing happened.

Francine’s mother is obviously furious at her daughter for reacting like that since it could have caused an accident. Just as she’s about to unleash her verbal fury upon her daughter, a tree from the side of the road comes crashing down and lays right before them. It is around the point in the comic you’d expect to hear the infamous introduction of the Stranger Things logo and theme music.

Jumping ahead eight years later to 1978, some five years before the events of Eleven and the upside down, Francine finds herself in Hawkins, Indiana, in the lab that is a familiar location for fans. Not only are we at the epicenter of trouble, but Dr. Brenner himself is present and conducting his experiments to enhance gifted individuals. Here we learn that Francine has now been designated as number Six.

A lot of the tones in this issue should be familiar with anyone who’s seen the show. Six and Elevens’ mentally abusive relationship with Dr. Brenner being the primary one. One element we haven’t seen, however, is that the program that tests and measures these special individuals is apparently at the height of its life with many participants enrolled and living on site.

While Stranger Things: Six #1 is in the development stage of the story, the mixture of its slow pace, large panels, and lack of dialogue make it a quick read and leave readers with a sense of being underwhelmed. Having a franchise such as Stranger Things, I was hoping to be a lot more engaged, but as quickly as you get into the issue, it’s over. The artwork from Salazar and Champagne is well done and captures the essence of the location of Hawkins lab with the drab color palettes from Louise clearly capturing the feel of the seventies.

Sadly, reading a comic tied to a very successful streaming show means naturally we are bound to compare the two side by side. There are many variables for Stranger Things on Netflix that really elevate the show, there are levels and depth that are packed into each episode. What Stranger Things: Six #1 is lacking is that it never feels like it captures any of these major tones, namely the eighties era nostalgia via recollection of the memorabilia, with the nerdy band of young kids, with the synthy music playing throughout the show, and most importantly the well delivered moments of unexpected tension and horror. Issue one lulls forward and the moments of actual suspense are not built towards, but rather thrown at us, resulting in a mundane reaction.

Given Stranger Things: Six #1 spends so much time building the scene and introducing the characters, I’m hopeful issue two wastes no time in moving the story along, but as a stand-alone comic, this one fails to deliver anything of note.

Stranger Things: Six #1 is available now wherever comic books are sold.

Stranger Things: Six #1
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TL;DR

Given Stranger Things: Six #1 spends so much time building the scene and introducing the characters, I’m hopeful issue two wastes no time in moving the story along, but as a stand-alone comic, this one fails to deliver anything of note.