LITTLE NIGHTMARES #1 BY ALEX PAKNADEL, ALEX WATTERS, AND AARON ALEXOVITCH
Art
Story
Characterization
Summary
LITTLE NIGHTMARES #1 successfully expands the universe of the video game by introducing us to new characters with untold backstories. Simultaneously, the comic retains the game’s air of mystery through its intelligent use of text. LITTLE NIGHTMARES #1 might not provide all the answers fans want, but it definitely contains a few tasty morsels for them to chew on.
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In April, gamers finally got their hands on the highly-anticipated Little Nightmares. Developed by Tarsier Studios, this atmospheric puzzle platformer introduced players to Six, a small girl in a yellow raincoat. The game begins with Six waking up in the Maw, a dark and mysterious ship where escape is futile. Armed with only a lighter, Six must navigate this hostile environment and outsmart its grotesque, gluttonous, and powerful inhabitants. The game contains nearly no text and spells nothing out for the player, instead weaving a vague narrative through world creation. The loose plot invites each player to subjectively interpret their experience in the Maw. Because of this, fans have spawned countless theories concerning exactly what Little Nightmares is about.

Given how hungry fans are for information, you can imagine how welcome LITTLE NIGHTMARES #1 is. Titan Comics’ tie-in comic has Alex Paknadel, Dan Watters, and John Freeman overseeing the plot. It’s also written by John Shackleford with art by Aaron Alexovitch, colors by Thiago Riebiero, and letters by Jim Campbell. When I picked up LITTLE NIGHTMARES #1, I was unsure of what to expect. Would the comic spoil the vagueness that makes the universe of Little Nightmares so intriguing to its fans? And can a game with such a loose narrative translate into a successful comic? I found LITTLE NIGHTMARES #1 to ultimately be a beautiful and haunting surprise.

LITTLE NIGHTMARES #1
Image Courtesy of Titan Comics

Welcome Back to the Maw

The first half of LITTLE NIGHTMARES #1 rehashes the visuals of the game while also introducing five new characters. Six gathers around a fire with five other shrouded figures, presumably other children, in a moment of respite. Interestingly, the presence of five other children might explain the origin of Six’s name. This scene also provides readers with evidence that Six is not the only child stuck in this terrifying world.

READ: LITTLE NIGHTMARES made ComicsVerse’s list of games to look out for in 2017!

The second half of LITTLE NIGHTMARES #1 presents an anecdote entirely unique to the comic. One of the children around the fire recalls how they ended up in the Maw. This tale presents entirely new content and our first look at the universe outside the Maw. It turns out, the world outside is just as cruel as the world inside.

Six and these other children are never expanded on in terms of characterization. They don’t have distinct personalities, and we never see their faces. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The mysteriousness of these children gives them a universal archetypal quality. They come to represent anyone who has had a less than fair shake. In the world of Little Nightmares, the powerless must be willing to do whatever it takes to survive. Just like Six moves from innocence to cruelty in the game, the other children will undoubtedly undergo a similar transformation.

Surprisingly Poetic With Passable Aesthetics

LITTLE NIGHTMARES #1 does not shy away from text in the same way as the game. However, it’s not quite a traditional comic either. The comic utilizes text in a way that can only be described as poetic. This is a brilliant creative decision for two reasons. Firstly, it elevates the comic to something more than a comic. Like the game itself, the comic pushes the boundaries of its medium. While the game’s loose plot, simple controls, and stylized graphics defy the trends of AAA titles, the comic tie-in’s tendency towards the poetic and vague is in stark contrast with most mainstream comics. Secondly, it allows the plot of LITTLE NIGHTMARES #1 to remain vague. The borderline poetry allows readers to interpret the text and story in multiple ways.

READ: What exactly makes a great horror game? ComicsVerse weighs in!

The use of text in the comic may have been a pleasant surprise. Still, I couldn’t help being a little disappointed by LITTLE NIGHTMARES #1’s art. The art is by no means bad. However, it does not fully capture the stunning visuals of the game. The comic tends to fill its panels with solid black, as opposed to the hazy atmosphere of the game. Still, the muted color palate employed throughout the story is spot on. Six’s yellow raincoat remains the only hint of color. This differentiates her from her bleak surroundings and emphases that she is out of her element.

LITTLE NIGHTMARES #1
Image Courtesy of Titan Comics

Fans Will Savor LITTLE NIGHTMARES #1, Flaws and All

The tie-in series for Little Nightmares serves as supplemental material. Therefore, it cannot stand independently as a story. Still, LITTLE NIGHTMARES #1 successfully expands the universe of the video game by introducing new characters. Simultaneously, the comic retains the game’s air of mystery through its intelligent use of text. LITTLE NIGHTMARES #1 might not provide all the answers fans want, but it definitely contains a few tasty morsels for them to chew on.

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