Title: Stranger Things.
Story arc: The Other Side.
Writer(s): Jody Houser.
Artist(s): Stefano Martino.
Inker(s): Keith Champagne.
Colourist(s): Lauren Affe.
Letterer(s): Nate Piekos of Blambot.
Publisher: Dark Horse Books.
Release Date: May 7th 2019.
Genre(s): Comics, Horror, Fantasy, Young-Adult.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
We are never safe from ideas of expansion that capitalize on excellent opportunities. When success is tasted for the first time, a dark force takes over some individuals and allows these ideas to germinate and proliferate wildly and without control within them. While many will see this as more of what they love, others will see it as the beginning of a tumble. After all, what good does it do to a franchise to expand in uncharted territory when it was never equipped for it in the first place? While I am all in for exploration, I was also ready for the ship to arrive broken, smaller than expected and with crewmembers missing. To see a franchise getting milked is not always a fun sight, right? Following the release of the Netflix original series, Stranger Things, back in 2016, a gargantuan fanbase came to life and grew at a phenomenal rate, where no mortal could not avoid hearing about it. Thus, right before the release of the 3rd season of the Duffer Brother’s horror series, new comic books and novels are being released to fill in the blank and allow fans to gain more insight into our favourite heroes and the Upside Down. It is now up to fans to find out if they are worth their time.
What is Stranger Things: The Other Side about? This graphic novel collects a four-part miniseries and revolves around Will Byers’ survival in the Upside Down. The story presents readers with his point of view during the events of the Netflix series’ first season until the beginning of the second season. Unsurprisingly, most of his time is spent in a realm that fans have not roamed in too much, while still giving them short and quick references to the events that occurred in the TV series. The story also draws parallel to the kids’ Dungeons & Dragons board game as they each embrace their fantasy characters to find answers to their questions. This short graphic novel hence looks to fill in the blank by allowing readers to relive the horrors of Will Byers’ life while his friends and family desperately search for him in the most unlikely of places.
Sometimes there are questions that should just remain unanswered for the greater good. Will Byers’ point of view was a mystery that could have stayed unsolved, leaving the viewers the opportunity to speculate on what he has been through and what was going through his head throughout the whole season. To try to cover all that ground within four issues was already, beforehand, an impossible task, or at least one that would come with severe flaws. In this case, the pacing was the biggest issue as the accelerated rhythm does not allow the reader to truly absorb and comprehend the amount of time Will Byers spends in this dark and sinister realm. The pacing does not also allow the reader to understand how much resilience was needed to fight through all the obstacles he faced. To deliver such a story simply takes away the stakes and gravity of what he goes through, even if it is for the sake of finding out what exactly it is he went through.
While the story does suffer from the pacing, there are some interesting angles that were explored. The privileged information for fans of the series that allow them to explain certain things that would otherwise have never been known in the TV series is still an upside to this graphic novel. It is also fun to see how Will Byers’ Dungeons & Dragons character plays a huge role as a defense mechanism to fight the darkness that engulfs his reality. Otherwise, the artwork is decent enough to capture some of the series’ magic while adding more elements of fantasy that would have been impossible to convey in the TV series. The character designs, however, could be a bit difficult to love with the awkward facial expressions, although it does a good job in drawing the actual actors, as you know them, instead of creating surrogates. The colours used are still adequate and rightly distinguish both realities, especially through the use of faded colours.
Stranger Things: The Other Side is an exploration of Will Byers’ point of view during the events of the hit Netflix original series’ first season with darkness, loneliness and hope as pivotal themes of his unfortunate experience.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!
The hit Netflix original series that took the world by storm is now at its third season coming out on the 4th of July, 2019! Have you started this series? Are you excited for the upcoming season?