WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the Stranger Things: Winter Special 2021 one-shot, on sale now from Dark Horse Comics.
The Demogorgon from the Upside Down still might be the most famous monster in the Stranger Things Universe. The Demogorgon was the first threat to arrive in Hawkins, Indiana, and it arguably came closest to killing the kids at their school in Season 1 when they were at their most vulnerable. While it was ultimately murdered in the show, the Stranger Things: Winter Special one-shot revives the visage of the monster with a holiday twist.
This prequel story, told by Chris Roberson, Abel, Nate Piekos and DJ Chavis, unfolds when the gang arrives at the Byers home so they could all have Christmas dinner together. This is Eleven's first chance at having a normal holiday, as she was either in the MK Ultra program or lost in the wilderness for the others before now, so everyone wants to make it extra special. Mike buys his crush a walkie-talkie so she could feel like part of the crew as well, but things get sad as she realizes that Chief Hopper didn't have cable or VHS movies like the others. And as the gang fills Eleven in on the particulars of classic holiday stories, she imagines the Demogorgon as the Grinch.
To catch Eleven up, the boys decide to put on a yuletide film festival, opting to eat while watching movies. They take turns explaining the various specials they have, all to help Eleven choose which one to pick. They mention Scrooge, but she sees her 'father,' Dr. Brenner, lashing out at his town with his hatred for the season.
But when they get to How the Grinch Stole Christmas, things get much darker and more haunting as the Grinch atop the mountain is swapped out for the Demogorgon in Eleven's imagination. The foot-soldier from the Upside Down lives with anger and hunger in its soul and comes down to town to steal gifts.
Much like the Grinch, the Demogorgon is discovered by a little girl and stays with the family he's stealing from until morning, where the horrific beast learns to appreciate the warmth of friends and family during the holiday season.
While the Demogorgon obviously didn't really try to steal a family's holiday season before learning a lesson about friendship, this story shows how Eleven interprets her friends' tales with her relatively limited life experience, which had been almost entirely in government captivity up until this point. Despite her imagination running away with this vision, Eleven loves what she hears and decides to watch them all, making it clear how grateful she is to feel normal with the gang again. It's a nice twist on the creature that Eleven disintegrated at the end of the show's first season.
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