Y’all. Y’all! Things are really heating up in the new issue of Stranger Things: SIX. Just when I thought I couldn’t love this sinister prequel anymore we get a delightfully weird trifecta of monsters, friends breaking the golden rule (“Friends Don’t Lie”) and a bit more backstory. In case you’re unfamiliar, Stranger Things: SIX is a wonderfully drawn comic that dives into all the strangeness that went on in Dr. Brenner’s Hawkins Laboratory before the events of Stranger Things. It follows Francine, a teenage girl with the ability to see into the future and explains how this ability has effected her life and the unusual events that unfold during her stay at Hawkins Laboratory. It’s a must read for fans of the series and I adore it so very much. If you’re intrigued, feel free to read my review on the debut issue here!
Okay, now that we’re up to speed, let’s chat about issue #2. Consider this your spoiler warning because I feel like gushing. Normally I’m on the fence about prequels, leaning towards unimpressed. I often find them not only bad but totally unnecessary. After bombshells such as Exorcist: The Beginning or Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, can you blame me? That being said Stranger Things: SIX has been a surprising and welcomed addition to the Stranger Things universe.
The story continues on and we see Francine still plagued with weird visions. These visions seep into dreams as the general image becomes much clearer. It appears that Francine is dreaming about The Upside Down, probably thanks to her precognition, which instantly raises some questions. Is she seeing the events that will unfold years from now with Eleven and the gang? Or will Francine be taking a literal trip into the unknown herself? I don’t see how that could happen as of right now but I’m open to it. Next, we catch up with boy next door, Ricky, who apparently was a little bit more than just Francine’s friend and fellow super powered teen. We also get a hint about what his ability might be.
It’s very vague but, based on the description I was instantly reminded of another atypical young person. Lauren Shippen’s The Bright Sessions has a character, Damien, who has a similar ability of persuasion or inception. Oh, the mental spiderwebs he could weave. It’s a loose parallel and maybe I’m wrong, though we weren’t given too much to work with. Anyway, it appears that Francine’s home life didn’t get much better despite her ability literally winning her family a house, her parents (especially her Father) constantly belittle her and it seems like anything she does is good enough. And when she decides to confide in Ricky about her situation? We get an insinuation on how Francine learned about Dr. Brenner’s facility.
After Francine’s interaction with Ricky, where she throws a copy of Stephen King’s Carrie at him, she sets off to make herself feel better by doing literally anything else. This is where she runs into the not so good Dr. Brenner and surprise guest, wait for it, Drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrum-roll, please? Eleven! It’s quick though exciting to see a younger, more eager to please Eleven going about her days in the lab.
And throughout the majority of this issue we see Francine still struggling to totally trust Dr. Brenner (not that anyone can blame her). Maybe it’s the occasionally ominous things he says. It could be the overall vibe he gives off. Or maybe he wears too much cologne. Either way, Francine isn’t exactly forthcoming about the visions she’s been having, instead passing off what’s been happening by saying she has a feeling that “something bad is coming”. This comment may seem like nothing on the surface, but Dr. Brenner is quick to jump into action and show Francine the laboratory’s latest addition. Any guesses what that might be? Too late, you’re wrong, it’s the sensory deprivation tank; the lightless, soundless tank filled with saltwater. People with psychic abilities or something to the same degree can go into this tank where their sensory experience is inhibited, allowing their abilities to be greatly enhanced. Someone insert the dun-dun-dunnnn music, please?
I’ve said it before and I’ll probably scream it into the void again and again: Stranger Things: SIX is a must read! It’s the perfect hold over of Stranger Things content until the season 3 release. The art is gorgeous, the story, so far, has been nothing short of riveting and has not disappointed me. I honestly don’t have the vocabulary to express how much I’m loving this mini-series. I am so bummed, as of right now, that Stranger Things: SIX is only getting 4 issues, I would love to see more of Francine’s adventures. Hell, I would love to see her make a brief appearance in the actual series as a cool Easter Egg. Do yourself a favor and add Stranger Things: SIX to your summer reading list. It’s worth checking out.
Stranger Things: SIX is published by Dark Horse and is written by Jody Houser, penciled by Edgar Salazar, and inked by Keith Champagne. The lettering was made by Nate Piekos, colored by Triona Farrel and the cover art was made by Aleksi Briclot, Kyle Lambert, David Mack, Patrick Satterfield and Jenny Frison. It is now available in comic book shops and via the the Dark Horse Website.
Wicked Rating: 8/10