STRANGER THINGS AND DUNGEONS & DRAGONS #2, available December 2nd from Dark Horse Comics, continues the adventures of four boys and the Tabletop RPG they fell in love with. It’s so easy to forget just how much this game had a positive impact on their lives.
Easy to forget, that is, until a series like this forces us to see how it all connects. The last issue explained how the four friends came to be, and how they made one discovery that would forever change their lives. Now, it’s time to see more of those long-lasting changes and impacts, in Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons #2.
Honestly, there’s something so empowering in seeing how many positive changes were wrought by this discovery. There’s no doubting that D&D changed the lives of these characters for the better. Just look at how well they were able to cope during the Netflix series. They used terminology, confidence, and knowledge gained from that very game.
The adventure of four kids in Hawkins continues in Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons #2. Written by Jody Houser and Jim Zub, this issue takes place after the events of the first season. Meaning that it happens after Will went missing — and was eventually saved. Not to mention everything else that happened in between.
While there are also two more seasons (at the moment) that take place after that point as well, the focus felt significantly different. This issue, the whole series, was intentionally written to showcase the changes made by D&D.
So naturally, one can guess the focus here: How four kids, damaged and hurting, once again learned coping mechanisms from something they have come to treasure so much. It was heartbreaking yet beautiful to see and read. One of those moments that many a reader can connect with. Even if they themselves are lucky enough to never have faced a Demogorgon in real life.
In many ways, this issue focused on the smaller moments that make up the series. In that way, what was written here felt very…human. Other than their past experiences (and their awaiting future), there was nothing larger than life or supernatural about it. Or how they were coping.
Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons #2 is a vibrant issue. One that struck a balance between comic art and the styles portrayed within the show. It’s an issue steeped in details of the time period — with D&D imagery to help flesh it all out.
Diego Galindo was the lead artist, portraying all of these little details, and then some. Galindo did an especially wonderful job showing the lingering trauma of events, making solid use of the imagery available to do so.
Msassyk’s colors really brought it all to life, while also sticking the issue firmly in the 80s. There’s no avoiding those specific hues, not without diving back into the Upside Down, that is. On that note, The Upside Down and its creatures felt even brighter than ever in this issue, thanks to the contrast.
Nate Piekos’s lettering is another detail worth mentioning. Much of the issue was an internal monologue, yet Piekos arranged it in such a way as to carry the imagery, rather than interfere. The two worked hand and hand, and created something new.
Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons #2 is a bittersweet issue, one that follows the events of the first season. Its success is in making the characters feel so very human, as they learn to cope with everything they have seen and survived.