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
The bizarre visions of a future she can’t understand haunt Francine’s waking hours as strongly as the feelings of betrayal from the only person she thought she could trust. What terrible trials does Dr. Brenner have in store for her and the other subjects of Hawkins Laboratory?
So while I have no idea who Francine is though in my mind she’s the mother of the Six that we know from the show. It would kind of make sense all things considered but unless Jody specifically states that to be true then it’s all conjecture. Still that I am thinking about it and trying to come up with a solution to our Six from this one that doesn’t involve her de-ageing or something along those lines well this is the power that good storytelling has. It engages your mind and sends off racing into different directions that aren’t on the pages themselves. Becoming invested in the book and the story ensuring that you’ll be back time and again as each new issue brings both answers and more questions.
So we open up with Francine either having a vision or actually being inside the upside down and I'm not exactly sure which. If she’s able to traverse the realms this easily then I am totally scared of her right now! Also from my perspective it looked like one of those creatures knew she was there and either way that’s hella creepy to me and even more so since this doesn’t look like anything we’ve already seen! The opening is utterly fantastic and it really grabs your attention and makes you reminisce of that first time you saw Alien.
The way that this is structured is absolutely brilliant. The way we learn information and how we see the characters interacting with one another through the story & plot development, the pacing and the character development has an incredible ebb & flow to it. With all that we see this Dr. Brenner is not someone I like at all, the way he spoke to Francine, Six, without ever using names, keeping it clinical let me know he doesn’t care one single bit for these outside what they can for him. In all I find him to be the biggest monster there is and we’ve seen plenty of them.
Edgar lays down the ground work extremely well here. Then Keith finishes that off with some darn good expertise and the two of them are able to work together to really take the linework and through it’s varying weights create some exquisite attention to detail. Also that we see the creature in nothing but shadow is well played, well played indeed. Also the amount of detail that goes into the backgrounds here is fabulous, and in such a sterile environment that’s a feat I’m happy to support. Also the flashbacks to outdoor moments are just another opportunity that’s taken advantage of. The faces and facial expressions are perfectly done to really give away some further characterisation that words can’t and confirm what we may already be thinking. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a very solid eye for storytelling. The colour work too really is something to see. I love the shading, the colour gradation and how it’s utilised to make something go from innocent to menacing is genius.
This book is bloody marvellous to read. It is way creepier than the show is and Francine is not to be underestimated by Dr. Brenner. She’s on the cusp of being an adult woman and she’s no true pushover so the way he talks to her is something that will blow up in his face. God Willing or Jody Willing as the case may be. You don’t have to be a fan or familiar with the show to enjoy this all you have to do is love a good dark thriller!