REVIEW: ‘Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons,’ Issue #2

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons #2

Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons #2 is a science fiction horror series published by Dark Horse Comics. Jody Houser and Jim Zub return as the authors of this issue. Diego Galindo returns as the issue artist with MSASSYK on colors and Nate Piekos as the letterer. In issue #1, we see our young friends navigating through middle school life and becoming familiar with the tabletop RPG known as Dungeons & Dragons. Through this game, Mike, Dustin, Will, and Lucas deepen their bond and friendship with one another. They were also able to apply the game to real-life, making certain situations much more relatable to them.

In issue #2, we see a time jump with Will in the hospital, recovering from his traumatic experience after being kidnapped by the supernatural creature dubbed by the boys as the Demogorgon. The entire gang is trying to recover from the horrific experience and the revelation that monsters truly exist. This issue focuses on Will’s trauma and Mike’s need to be a leader and return things to normal for everyone. Mike is trying his very hardest to use Dungeons & Dragons to help heal the wounds inflicted by their most recent experience.

Houser and Zub do a fantastic job at writing this issue’s story, so much so that it was a bit cathartic to my personal life. I’ve had quite a few dramatic experiences in my life. My darkest moment had to be the winter of 2018 when I felt the most alone and nothing going great in my life. To distract me and give myself some sense of normalcy, I dove headfirst into Monster Hunter: World. For Mike and the other boys, Dungeons & Dragons is their anchor, their sense of normalcy. Mike wanted to curate a campaign for his friends to go through and feel heroic in the end. Monster Hunter: World is a totally different game than Dungeons & Dragons but after each monster I slew, I felt victorious. Despite having to navigate through my days, I knew at the end of it I had that game, that normalcy, to look forward to. Sometimes our passions and hobbies are the heroes of our stories. While I don’t like dwelling on the past, I’m glad Houser and Zub remind me of the solace I took in an enjoyable hobby that kept me anchored.

While not trying to spoil too much, Houser and Zub remind readers that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. They remind us of all the emotions we feel after a traumatic experience and there is no one way to heal. However, in order to heal, we can’t run away from the pain and we have to create a new sense of normal.

I have been in the shoes of Will and Mike. Feeling powerless to my trauma, while also trying to return things back to normal, as if nothing had ever happened. While the artwork in issue #2 doesn’t stand out, what’s noticeable is Galindo’s attention to facial expressions and raw emotion that Will and Mike display. When the gang speaks to Will, we can see Will staring off into the distance, lost in his thoughts or trying not to make eye contact with his friends. We see Mike shed a few tears but also try very hard to not cry so he can come off as strong. Mike is also extremely frustrated and irritable with himself, tossing objects about as he tries to tackle his issues alone.

Stranger Things and Dungeon & Dragons #2 is an extremely heavy issue but can be cathartic to many readers. Houser and Zub humanize two of our main fictional characters while MSASSYK brings out raw emotions through an amazing display of facial expressions. With two more issues in this series run, I hope there are more lessons to be learned and an array of emotions to be felt.

Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons #2 is available wherever comics are sold.


Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons #2
5

TL;DR

Stranger Things and Dungeon & Dragons #2 is an extremely heavy issue but can be cathartic to many readers. Houser and Zub humanize two of our main fictional characters while MSASSYK brings out raw emotions through an amazing display of facial expressions. With two more issues in this series run, I hope there are more lessons to be learned and an array of emotions to be felt.