Fresh and fast-paced, The Walking Dead: The Alien books captures all the excitement of The Walking Dead. Originally released on Panel Syndicate, then as a “Local Comic Shop Day” special release, it’s now out as a hardcover graphic novel.
If the slowing, shuffling pacing of The Walking Dead’s narrative made you feel a bit like a walker yourself, Alien is a chance to revisit what it felt like to start reading the series. Of course, the greatest horror is that it’s only one issue. But, still, it’s an issue written by Brian K. Vaughan.
Taking place near the beginning of the outbreak, the story follows Jeff as he tries to survive Barcelona. After being rescued by the armored Claudia, the two begin to decide what the next course of action should be.
The absolute best aspect of this book is the way it puts zombies back at the forefront of the threats our characters face. It’s not bogged down with trade agreements, or putting on a fair. It takes the premise readers all know and love and puts it a new scenario with characters we don’t absolutely know are going to survive.
Obviously a great deal of credit has to be given to Robert Kirkman for everything he’s done with these stories for so many years. However, it is such a breath of fresh air to see the story through the eyes of a new creative team. The reader races through the story in anticipation, eager to recapture the sense of not knowing what would happen next. As the story is a one-shot, I won’t tell you, either.
The art by Marcos Martin is fantastic. He’s joined on gray tones by regular Walking Dead contributor Cliff Rathburn. Originally released digitally, the comic uses the turn of pages effectively to create suspense as you make your way through the story. The digital experience of going panel by panel or staring at a screen is different than on a printed page but the translation feels like it enhances things in a way. There’s an excitement and tension that flows from panel to panel not just page to page. There’s also a focus on the fact it’s early in the pandemic so the zombies are decayed as much. It’s a small detail that stands out. Rus Wooton‘s lettering is top-notch as well really delivering the tone of a scene full of excitement, somber, or the need to stay relatively quiet.
The hardcover includes sketches and notes from the creation of the comic adding a nice “director’s commentary” feel to the release and making it special. I have no idea if this was included in the previous physical release but it’s a nice addition that turns it from a floppy I’d like to a hardcover comic I’d like.
If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead, The Walking Dead: The Alien is a must get. If you just like good storytelling, the team nails it delivering an emotional punch and the highs and lows of a roller coaster. Ever since it’s first release, I had hoped we’d see more creative teams given a shot to expand upon the world Kirkman created but, when your initial attempt is so good, I’m not sure they’d be able to live up to the high bar initially set out.
Story: Brian K. Vaughan Art: Marcos Martin
Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn Letterer: Rus Wooton
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review