Premise: In 1989, Marvel Comics began publishing the first comic book series to feature Freddy Krueger and the Nightmare on Elm Street mythos. Freddy Krueger’s A Nightmare on Elm Street was published in classic black and white, on magazine sized stock, running for two issues before it was cancelled.
Plot Breakdown (spoilers): In Springwood, paramedics are called to the home of Allison Hayes. Allison, a teenage girl, was found by her parents in bed, severely wounded and barley breathing. The paramedics, thinking Allison’s parents abused her, call the police to investigate. Meanwhile, in New York City, Dr. Juliann Quinn is in the process of moving back to Springwood. She is having nightmares relating to child murderer Fred Krueger, and wants to find a way to confront and stop the horrific dreams. On the plane ride over, Juliann reads a letter from a nun who worked with Amanda Krueger, Freddy’s birth mother. The nun details the events of Amanda’s rape at the hands of the one hundred patients at Our Lady of Sorrows mental institution. Following the letter, Juliann examines the psychologist’s report on Krueger, compiled during his trial. The next morning, after another terrifying nightmare, Juliann attends a meeting at Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital, where she is assigned Allison’s case. Allison survived her ordeal and now refuses to sleep. Juliann meets with the girl, and the two discover they share the same nightmare about Fred Krueger. Juliann is concerned, as she knows Krueger has targeted her because her parents were part of the mob that burned him alive, but she doesn’t understand why he has targeted Allison. Later, Juliann convinces Allison to partake in a dream exercise, which will allow Allison to exert control over dreams. Allison reluctantly agrees. Starting out, Juliann draws a picture of a rock formation and hypnotically suggests to Allison that the two can meet there in the dream. After they fall asleep, they soon awake on top of the rock formation in Juliann’s drawing. Juliann takes Allison through some dream exercises, allowing Allison to tap into her “dream power.” Just as the two dreamers make some progress, Freddy appears and threatens to kill them both. The rock under the girls’ feet begins to change to a tissue substance, making them sink into the ground. Freddy, gloating over their impending doom, reveals the rock formation is his head and they are sinking in his brain.
The Good: Freddy Krueger’s A Nightmare on Elm Street is a wonderful homage to the old Tales from the Crypt comic book style, giving readers a sense of familiarity. The black and white artwork is clean and very detailed, with enough gore elements to keep any horror fan happy. Freddy’s face shot at the beginning is perfectly illustrated, for example, along with the eye-catching cover. The writing is very strong here, as the characters are well written and the pacing is very good – no part of the story feels rushed or sluggish. Popular elements from the film series, specifically A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, are used effectively, laying out the “rules” for Freddy and the dream world. Little “real life” nuances add fun to the story too, with the nun’s letter being addressed to “Mr. Quinn” and Juliann’s confusion over Allison’s slang. Freddy’s origin and motivations are presented to the reader convincingly, without it being blatant exposition. The origin story featured is taken from The Life and Death of Freddy Krueger, with expanded areas allowing for more detail. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare effectively retconned this origin tale, so it is no longer in continuity. However, it is still an enjoyable read. Kudos need to be given for Freddy’s appearances, as he is kept in the shadows, revealed slowly until issue’s end.
The Bad: Not much. Freddy’s glove is sometimes detailed to have five blades, instead of four. Juliann’s dream in New York borderlines on silly, but by no means is it a detriment to the story. There are some iffy elements concerning the use of hypnosis to be a part of another’s dream.
Final Comments: A well written and illustrated first issue, providing an excellent introduction to the world of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Some elements are no longer in continuity, but it doesn’t distract from the overall story.