Stranger Things And Dungeons & Dragons #1 – Jody Houser, Jim Zub, Diego Galindo, Nate Piekos & MsassyK (Dark Horse Comics)

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There was a time, during the decade that Stranger Things is set in, that Dungeons & Dragons was seen as being a perverted tool of Satan that was designed to corrupt and enslave the minds of youngsters and any and all who fell under its spell.  It was a difficult time to be a geek and a gamer, and it’s especially gratifying for those of who lived through it to see Dungeons & Dragons, or D&D as it’s more commonly known to those of us devoted to the way of the twenty sided dice, become a staple part of mainstream culture. And that’s thanks, in no small part to the central part the game plays in Stranger Things and the global popularity of the show, and in Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons, Jody Houser and Jim Zub are given free rein to tell the story of how Will, Lucas, Mike and Dustin discovered the game that changed their lives.

A heart-warming, charming and highly personable tale that’s invested with a rare sincerity that shows just how much the authors and artists care about their subject material, Stranger Things.. serves a wonderful dual purpose. As well as being a story of friendship and how the quartet found a way of relating to, and understanding the world around them, this book also explains the importance of games like D&D to the kids, and people, who feel like perpetual outsiders, who exist on the fringes of everyday culture and feel like they’ll never fit in and how it offers them a lifeline to cling to and a way to understand that they’re not alone and meet, interact with and form enduring friendships with others who are just like them.  And, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Stranger Things fan or not, this is a book that every comic fan and gamer needs to read.

Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons couldn’t have been written by anyone other than Houser and Zub. Why? Well, because the former is so thoroughly immersed in the Stranger Things universe, she probably knows more about it than any other living soul and the latter is a dedicated D&D fan whose burning and unbridled passion for the game is writ large in every panel and page of this book. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they’re two of the greatest working four colour writers who both have an uncanny ability to weave great stories featuring well-rounded, believable and relatable character and when you team them up with a staggeringly talented artistic due like Diego Galindo and MsaasyK, the end result is inevitably going to knock you off your feet and completely blow your mind. And that’s exactly what this book does.  Tim Cundle

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