Stranger Things Six #1 / Writer: Jody Houser / Pencils : Edgar Salazar / Inks: Keith Champagne / Colors: Marissa Louise / Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot / Cover: Aleksi Briclot / Publisher: Dark Horse Comics / Publish Date: May 29th, 2019.
Stranger Things Six #1 is the story of Francine, test subject Number Six at the Hawkins lab. While the show introduced us to Eleven and showed us her powers, here we see that she’s not the only special child. Francine may have precognitive abilities, but they’re not something she can easily control. During testing she may not succeed at all, but in the quiet of her room she sees the future… and it looks like a Demogorgon.
Author Jody Houser does a great job of bringing the reader into the story of Six. We see what her life was like as Francine, then her life at Hawkins, and finally how all of these events bleed together. Neither the past nor the present seem particularly happy for Six… nor the dark future she sees. Houser has created a well-rounded introduction to Six, and each section engages the reader, making you hungry to know more.
Houser has always had a knack for making an epic world feel real. This is a world of complicated pockets of horrors, and Houser has experience in this; writing for the Star Wars universe and, more recently, a Captain Marvel one-off. You empathize with her characters and connect to their emotional reactions. When Six meets Three, she is thrown into turmoil, and the reader is along for the ride.
Art Makes the Mood
The artwork by Edgar Salazar and Keith Champagne breathes realistic and heart-wrenching detail into every facet of Six’s life. Her minute expressions accentuate every part of her journey of abuse and unhappiness. Those around her are drawn angry, stoic, or disappointed—a sharp contrast to the happy children at play with whom she is unable to join.
Marissa Louise’s colors paint the drab world in which our character lives. The muted earth tones depict not just a dirty and stale Hawkins Laboratory, but Six’s own stunted childhood in the 70’s with her parents. Louise uses traditionally warm colors to create a very cold environment with the brightness leached out of it. Even the red color of Six’s hair has gone dull.
Strange, Dark, & Exciting
The world of Stranger Things Six #1 is fantastic and very much in line with what we see in the TV show. It’s a dark world with complex issues that we have only begun to explore. Houser and her team are all-stars, deftly navigating us through this new story, and taking us in very exciting directions. The theme seems to be what a person can go through when they are used and manipulated. I’m assuming at some point, she may snap, and I’m here to watch that!
Verdict: 5 out of 5