Has The Walking Dead run its course? The show is ended, the comics have ended and the cultural phenomenon has faded. So, in a post-TWD world, do we still care about reading The Walking Dead? Has Robert Kirkman and (at this stage) Tony Moore’s comics held up in the nearly two decades since The Walking Dead began?
I don’t know. These were a lot of questions going through my mind the past week. Because this is certainly an issue of The Walking Dead that had me thinking.
This issue is all about the basics. Not about epic adventure or long lost love, exploring new (and dangerous) friendships. It’s just about ‘zombies are here, what next?’ and that’s cool. That’s what earned The Walking Dead its reputation. This issue is in a difficult spot in 2020 because it was novel back in 2004 when a lot of zombie stuff was about dumb action and guts and gore. Of course, The Walking Dead changed the game by slowing the pace way down and asking questions about survival outside of the zombies.
Rick and Glenn go get some guns. That’s pretty much it. Of course, they test out the zombie smells theory, which is thwarted by mother nature’s tears (rain) and we get a tiny hint of Lori’s infidelity. Of course, she thought Rick was dead so it’s understandable. For now. The issue is kind of dry, but it is important because it helped set the tone for what The Walking Dead IS. So, we have to rewind our minds and think back to 2004 when the Dawn of the Dead remake had chainsaw window busses and Land of the Dead and Resident Evil 2 (movie). Remember that zombie media was pretty bombastic.
It’s like how kids think Jaws is boring now. Because everything has taken all the good stuff from Jaws and applied it to themselves. But, Jaws was the OG modern blockbuster thriller. The Walking Dead was one of the earlier deconstructed, slow apocalypse stories.
Tony Moore doesn’t look as on point in some of the conversational scenes here. But, the wides of the city, the architecture? They look great. And, who can forget that splash page of the zombies around the tank? The level of detail provided there and in other pages, like Glenn going through the glove box. I thought some of his facial expressions were a bit weaker than usual, but that’s like saying a QB threw an interception while still throwing for 300 yds, rushing for 50, and has 3 touchdowns. I’ll take it.
The colors prove to, once again, change the whole dynamic of the story for me. The only thing that I found disappointing was not being able to see the zombie grime on Rick and Glenn as well as we could’ve. They should’ve had ooze and blood all over, something that wasn’t easily visible in the black and white version but could’ve been a huge addition with color. Otherwise, I really like the greys and colors of the zombies, the hazy sky and the dead woods.
If you’ve been reading The Walking Dead: Deluxe, I’m sure this won’t change your mind. But, if you’re not familiar with the series and you’re dipping your toes in for the first time (somehow avoiding the show, comics, and videogames!), you’ll soon find out that Robert Kirkman laces the story with peaks and valleys. There are times of high excitement and down periods where you’re wondering when the adrenaline is coming back. Then, when things heat up, you want things to go back to normal! It’s a roller coaster!
But, I think his characters are the most electric parts of the story. And that’s what I mean by downtime. This issue has action and zombie killing, but that’s not why we read The Walking Dead, is it? That last interaction between Lori and Shane is more exciting than most of the other pages. Maybe not as exciting as Rick’s leather jacket getting bit, but you get the point I’m making here.
It’s even reflected in The Cutting Room Floor, the extra segment at the end for behind-the-scenes info. Kirkman spends most of it talking about pornstars and freak shows. He even admits there’s not much to talk about it. Is it a bad issue? No, it’s a breath before the scream.