Review of The Walking Dead: The Alien

twd_thealien_bigby Brian K Vaughan & Marcos Martin

Brian K Vaughan & Marcos Martin bring their unique brand of comics to a self contained Walking Dead one shot and while it’s far from their best work together, it’s easily on of the best Walking Dead comics I’ve ever read. Vaughan & Martin approach the series world by applying their own aesthetic with the flair of a classic black & white horror film for a unique take on a intellectual property that’s become omnipotent within popular culture.

Vaughan is one of the greatest comics writers of all time who continues to push the medium forward with his work on creator owned books like SagaPapergirls or the digital pay what you want Panel Syndicate series The Private Eye & Barrier with illustrator & creative partner Marcos Martin. Martin has become perhaps Vaughan’s most consistent creative partner just based on the sheer number of different comics they’ve worked on together. His style is totally singular and unique in the sharpness of it’s shapes yet cartoonish expressionism. In Alien, that’s definitely still there in the non-zombie character design or his take on the books Barcelona setting but his design and illustrations of the stories zombie’s feels like nothing the artist has done on his past work. There’s a distinguished detail to the horror monsters that feels closer to realism then almost anything the artist has done in prior. It’s an interesting contrast, how the most unreal part of the story looks the  most realistic,  and it’s jarring distinction add’s an element of horror to it’s monsters. Vaughan & Martin both have the timing and style of horror down so well it’s surprising this is the first time the two have approached the genre together. Panel’s like the two showing the books protagonist approaching a corner in a dark sewer, the killing of a zombie at just the right moment or the thrilling extended underwater fight have this classic Hitchcokian feel to them. As a writer, Vaughan’s mastery of dialogue continues here with an especially touching moment at the issue’s conclusion.

For someone that hasn’t read an issue of The Walking Dead comic in years and quit on the show a couple seasons ago, I was still able to read this issue and understand what was happening. While it establishes a big connection to one of the series protagonist, knowledge of the comic or TV show is unnecessary as the quality of material in undeniable here. Vaughan & Martin continue to be one of comics most interesting pairings proving that they can create something unique even when the concept is completely ubiquitous within the medium and beyond. There style transcends any preconceived notions and shows it’s elasticity here, making for a great single issue comic that stands out for it’s vision and excellence.

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