Lumberjanes, Black Hammer, and others can stave off your withdrawal
Earlier this month, EW gave readers their first exclusive look at Stranger Things 2, the much-anticipated follow-up to last year’s Netflix breakout. Unfortunately for fans, they still have a while to wait; Stranger Things 2 doesn’t hit the streaming service until Halloween. But in the meantime, there are plenty of comic books out there that carry a similar vibe. Fans in need of a dose of ’80s science-fiction or the spectacle of precocious young kids battling terrifying monsters should check out some of these books while counting down the months to Halloween.
Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s story of superheroes stranded in a Midwestern farm town may not look much like Stranger Things at first glance – its protagonists are jaded and past-their-prime, not bright young kids. But just as Stranger Things invokes all kinds of characters, monsters, and situations from the ‘80s fiction of Steven Spielberg and Stephen King, so Black Hammer masterfully plays with all the many tropes and genres of superhero fiction over the past few decades. Plus, there’s the spectacle of seeing aliens and witches interact with normal people in a rural setting is a good segue from watching the Demogorgon lit on fire inside a living room.
As the title suggests, this mystery-solving group of kids resides in Gotham City, offering readers a different point of view of Batman’s hometown, as Olive, Maps and the gang get into supernaturally-tinged trouble… while also attempting to get good grades.
Locke & Key
Little kids are often the first to find the most wonderful and terrifying things hidden just beneath the surface of the normal world. So it is in Stranger Things, and so it is in Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key. After their father is murdered by a drifter, the Locke family moves to their ancestral home of Keyhouse in Massachusetts. While their mother tries to deal with their recent traumatic experiences (sound familiar?), the kids find the many magical keys hidden within the ancient mansion – keys that open doors to the soul, and the mind, and the outer darkness, among other things. Stranger Things took much inspiration from Stephen King’s work, so perhaps it’s no surprise that this great comic by his son Hill excels in a similar way.
No strangers to strange things that lurk in the woods, Mike, Dustin, and company would easily fit in at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, where they’d be surrounded by not just supernatural creatures of every shape and form, but also by fun-loving campers who believe in friendship to the max—and know a thing or two about friends getting trapped in another dimension (or time). It’s a series even Barb would approve of.
1980s? Check. Bike riding kids? Check. A missing friend? Check. Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang’s Paper Girls resides in the same wheelhouse as the fan-favorite Netflix series. But instead of shady government experiments, the four newspaper delivery girls at the center of the series must navigate time travel and a number of alien-seeming creatures.
X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga
Stranger Things did not invent the prodigious young girl with powerful telekinetic abilities in a permanent struggle against her inner darkness. In fact, the trope reached its apex in one of the kids’ favorite comic books, the ‘80s X-Men run by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. “The Dark Phoenix Saga” is the story of Jean Grey reaching her full potential as a mutant by bonding with an all-powerful cosmic force called the Phoenix. Her newfound power destabilizes and prompts the intervention of a galactic empire, eventually building to a tragic climax and one of, if not the, best X-Men stories ever told.