Goosebumps: Download and Die! #2
Writer: Jen Vaughn
Artist: Michelle Wong
Colorist: Triona Tree Farrell
Letterer: Christa Miesner
Review by Evan Maroun
I remember walking into my public library as a kid, maybe 8 or 9 years old, and seeing a big eye-catching standee containing rainbow colors and pages set upon a prominent shelf. Each book emblazoned with that iconic oozing logo. This was none other than R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series. My parents didn’t allow me to watch horror movies at that age, so I figured I’d be a little rebellious and use the series as a sort of loophole. Books are like a movie in your head after all, right?
I must’ve torn through more than half of the series over a summer. Were they all winners or memorable? God no. Were they consistently entertaining? Heck yeah. Goosebumps captured my imagination and kickstarted my lifelong love affair with the horror genre. The series still remains one of my fondest memories of reading as a youngster.
Now IDW does a frustratingly great job at appealing to my nostalgia with a lot of the titles they put out (*looks longingly at their Samurai Jack series*) …this might be the last straw, guys. Before we dive in, you can take a look at what we thought of issue #1 here. Putting nostalgia aside, does Download and Die! #2 continue to capture the creepy yet campy spirit of the series?
Picking right up right where the first issue left off, issue two follows Mitra, Kyra, and Flips as they are dealing with a few different problems. These include planning their app project, the element of jealousy in friendships, crushing on someone, all of this while we see Mitra’s slowly evolving obsession with the mysterious phone grow more malicious. Despite Kyra’s objections of course. Jen Vaughn does a great job of balancing all these aspects while somehow making me wish I went to their school. Mainly because they learn things that I actually wanted to learn but wasn’t taught. I am a substitute teacher on occasion, and when I ask young kids what they want to be, more often than not, its “a Youtuber” or “I wanna make video games!” this, alongside the real push to get young women interested in STEM-based jobs make this story feels especially relevant and refreshing to see as it’s all surrounded by technology with likable role models in the forefront.
While Goosebumps: Download and Die! #2 has its eerie elements, it definitely plays within the confines of it’s all-ages demographic and that’s as expected. After all, this isn’t Fear Street (Psst…IDW, let’s get on that series next.) In traditional Goosebumps fashion, it has silly moments as well, but overall this looks to focus more on its characters than adding up scares, which is a wise decision.
Speaking of the demographic, Michelle Wong’s style fits this series quite nicely. Unlike the Goosebumps cover illustrations of old, which were somewhat disturbing and realistic in comparison, Wong’s bold linework and animated physicality therein strike a slightly different tone–one that highlights the lightheartedness rather than its darker aspects. That’s not to say she falters when the horror comes, not at all. One scene, in particular, involving an unusual sick boy in a hospital, was executed tremendously and the last panel of that page left even me a little creeped out.
To be completely honest here, it’s pretty hard to find faults so far in this series. Kyra and Flips are constantly being fleshed out, and Vaughn does this in clever ways. However, I would like to see more of them and their lives outside of school because Mitra does take the spotlight. Also, a lot of the covers feature Slappy, and I’m not sure if this is just because he is basically the series mascot, or he is playing into this story somehow? We’ll see. In other words, really minor gripes.
Verdict: Buy it.
Vaughn, Wong, and the whole creative team are taking Goosebumps and modernizing it for a new generation: one that will eagerly consume it under the covers, by the light of their smartphones.