Dark Horse Comics 2019
Written by Jody Houser
Pencilled by Edgar Salazar
Inked by Keith Champagne
Coloured by Marissa Louise
Lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover by David Mack
Francine, also known as subject Six, is struggling with the pressures and expectations of being a teenager in the late seventies—but unlike other kids, it’s her special precognitive abilities that are complicating her life. Dr. Brenner claims that living under his care is a better option, but visions of a dangerous future haunt her waking hours. Dive into the first prequel comic series of Stranger Things. Delve into the secrets of Hawkins Laboratory!
Okay I had no idea what to expect with this one so I was just going into it thinking this was going to be another look at the show. Oh no ma’am that’s not the case. Jody is one of the most talented writers around and she continues to demonstrate that with everything she writes but this one, this one outdid every single thing I was expecting! While I have no idea how the relationship with what she’s doing with these stories and the Netflix people but I don’t want this to end because this is just as thrilling as the show is, on every level.
I like the way that this book is structured. The opening is great it has this dynamic feeling to as well as giving the reader a very good look at the mother. The characterisation is amazing to see already and what all this does is capture the readers’ imagination right off the bat and doesn’t want you to let go. It also kind of brings this ominous feeling to the book because you know that something bad is going to be a result of what we witness. For this franchise it’s the ultimate feeling that fits beautifully.
As I kept reading this issue, then re-reading it a few times, I noticed that this has something of British undertone to the way Jody is writing it. Maybe it is because that’s where my grandmother was born and raised for many years, or because I watch way too much Britbox but I feel it and it helps me with the whole feel of authenticity to the reactions I see in regards to Francine and what she’s capable of. I still can’t get over the characterisation here and how strong it is right off the bat and throughout the entire book.
The interior artwork here is amazing! The linework that we see is crisp, clean and the result of a strong hand. The way that the varying weights are utilised so that they are able to create this stupendous attention to detail blows my mind. The sheer realism quality that is brought to this and how easy we can read the facial expressions and their feelings and emotions. The whole team from the pencils through the colour work these folks really work so incredibly well together. Each one layering the previous with their own special way and approach to their work.
The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show this amazing eye for storytelling. This is how to effectively utilise backgrounds folks, even in the centre the consistency is there to provide that sense of size and scope along with expanding the moments. The colour work too with this stellar utilisation of light sources to create highlights, shading and this colour gradation effects jut makes this more beautiful.
They don’t know the Upside Down even exists yet and I love that fact. I also enjoy seeing what could possibly be the origin of the Six we know and love. That Jody can take us beyond what’s on the page and imagine possibilities that may or may not exist is just one of the many reasons that I will read anything she’s writing. Dark Horse scored a coup with this franchise and the creative team just keeps proving why they are the best at what they do.