Dark Horse Comics 2018
Written by Jody Houser
Pencilled by Stefano Martino
Inked by Keith Champagne
Coloured by Lauren Affe
Lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot
Will Byers is missing. The town of Hawkins, Indiana, including Will’s best friends and family scour the area looking for him. What they don’t know is that he’s lost in the Upside Down, an impossible dark parody of his own world. This grim realm seems desolate and empty but Will isn’t alone!
This was sensational and for the pure reason that Jody is taking a look at what happened to Will from Will’s point of view. We didn’t see this in the show how Will fared while he was trapped in the upside down and for us to see that moment and to see him descend into the upside down whether he realised it or not. Being a fan of the show I tend to get excited for projects like this but then I have that nervous trepidation that it’s going to somehow not live up to expectations or feel so far removed from it’s source material that it is a disappointment.
Thankfully Jody is such an accomplished writer that she can seamlessly enter this world and pick up and run with things. I completely felt as if this is an extension of the series and this spotlight on Will is a perfect companion to what we saw. I am so impressed with this that it took me by surprise because while the connection is there the characterisation we get for Will is game changing. From seeing him walking alone going home after a rousing campaign of Dungeons & Dragons to the flashbacks of those games we get a really solid look at Will as a person and character.
The way that this is structured is great and the whole ebb & flow of what I am seeing is so smooth. The transitions from segment to segment are so well executed and that they tie together so well is impressive. I love seeing the now and then and seeing how the gaming and being Will the Wise is helping him be brave even if his character wasn’t doing too well. The confidence his friends and what they do give him is immeasurable in my opinion and Jody manages to convey that and so much more through the writing and through the interior artwork as well.
I am a huge fan of the interiors here I love the attention to detail and the fact that the kids so closely resemble their real life counterparts. I love that the game sessions have this different approach but with the same meticulous attention to detail that we see throughout. The varying weight of the linework and how it’s used to do the in focus and backgrounds are so well done. Stefano lays down some killer pencils here and Keith and Lauren finish that off beautifully. As a collaborative effort it all comes together like a dream. The utilisation of page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels shows off a very strong eye for storytelling.
If you are the one in a billion who haven’t seen the show then you doubly should read this. If you are a fan of the show this is the perfect compliment to it. This issue makes me want to see Dark Horse and this creative team to do a series of arcs that focus on each one of them and to have that hope and desire so quickly is surprising and a testament to these creators. The writing is sensational, the pacing, the characterisation and the interior artwork all conspire to make this one of the few properties that doesn’t detract from the franchise but only makes it that much better, something it seems Dark Horse manages to do quite often.