Stranger Things in Comics

by Blaise Tassone

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If you’re a fan of the paranormal, the 1980s and live action shows that wear their comic book influences on their sleeves, then you’ll probably enjoy the Netflix series ‘Stranger Things’. Currently on its third season, this fan favorite show has spawned several comic book spin off titles. In this post I’ll take a look at the Stranger Things comics by Dark Horse.

The plot of ‘Stranger Things’ the series, created by Matt and Ross Duffer, revolves around the disappearance of Will Byers in November, 1983 and the influence this has on his friends, family and other residents of the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana.

A sinister government lab, conducting nefarious experiments, is also part of the equation and the character of Eleven (a telekinetic powered girl) who shares a bond with an alternate parallel dimension known as ‘the Upside Down’, completes the background context for the original story.

At the start of the first series, 12 year old Will and his friends (his best friend Mike Wheeler, the goofy Dustin Henderson, and Lucas Sinclair) are shown to be Dungeons and Dragons playing teens. Their love of that popular 1980s fantasy role playing game also strongly influences the course of the show.
But it’s the Bronze Age X-Men allusions that will please comic book lovers.

The mention of X-Men #134 at the beginning of the first season, as the boys are racing home to play D&D, is no accident, but rather an unmistakable reference to the Dark Phoenix story line which comes close to being played out in the unfolding of the story arc for the character of Eleven.

The comic influences are also most likely what led Dark Horse to contract a comic series based on the critically acclaimed show. Currently the second four issue mini-series based on the show is being published. The most popular and collectible (read: valuable) of the Stranger Things comics however are the various standard and variant covers of the first issue of the first series.

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Stranger Things #1 (September 2018) – First Comic book issue based on the series

The first Stranger Things comic is written by Jody Houser with excellent art by Stefano Martino. The series is based completely on Will’s unseen journey during Season One of the hit Netflix show.

In the show, after Will disappears, we follow the story from the point of view of his friends and his mother, who are all searching for him. In the comic, we get Will’s side of the story. All the central elements of the series (it’s D&D references, the spooky vibe and the monster filled parallel dimension) are present in the comic.
If you like the show, you’ll definitely enjoy this comic. But is it valuable?

The standard cover has sold only three times and has a mere 6 copies on the CGC census (three 9.8 and three 9.6[?] copies). Recorded blue label sales on GoCollect.com, give the comic in 9.8 condition has a current FMV of $75.00. But, like I said, that’s after only three [eBay] sales: 05/02/2019 for $120.00; a 05/09/2019 sale for $63.69; and a 05/10/2019 sale for $85.00 (all on 9.8 copies). That gives the book a negative -38% roi but, also way too few number of sales to establish anything like a definite pattern, however when we look at alternate covers, two have managed to sell more regularly.

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Stranger Things #1 (NYCC Variant)

The New York City comic convention variant has a total of 3 sales on the GoCollect.com data base. A 9.8 sold on eBay on 04/06/2019 for $65.00 and a 9.6 also sold on eBay for $55.00 on 05/11/2019.

Stranger Things #1 (Midtown Comics Edition)

This variant seems to be the most popular, with a total of 7 eBay sales (all 9.8 grades). However the trend overall is definitely softening numbers and downward trajectory: after a 11/12/2018 eBay sale for $79.99, prices dropped to as low as $35.99 (11/16/2018), then picked up again with a $39.99 sale (11/30/2018), then hovered between 59-79 dollar range with the last recorded sale on 07/04/2019 going for $58.49. That gives the Midtown Comics Edition a positive + 8.5% return on investment over the last six months.

Should you buy Stranger Things? If you love the show, I’d look for high grade (9.8 or higher) raw copies, which can be found for a deal. It may not be the most valuable comic out there, but it may be worth taking a chance on.

Now, I can go back to finishing up Season 3. See you in the Upside Down.

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