I was a bit harsh on the last issue, wasn’t I? I feel like I was a bit rougher. It was a good issue, I just wanted something a little bit more than what we got. The guts and the rain was good but I was craving the character drama. The drama! And this issue delivers everything. I think, if you had to choose an issue of The Walking Dead to show people, this one represents what The Walking Dead is the best.
On a recent podcast, I was talking about how the first episode of The Walking Dead wasn’t a great representation of the rest of the show, the second episode was. And, I’d take that stance on the comic too. The first episode gives you a vibe that this isn’t a normal zombie comic. But, I think this issue encapsulates why you’d get into the story. The Walking Dead Deluxe #5 is a nearly perfect snapshot of the series.
The Walking Dead Deluxe #5 opens with Rick and the gang doing target practice. Of course, it’s rife with character moments and we get to see different personalities and developments, everything from Andrea’s deadeye to Carl getting his gun and then the ball gets rolling from there. Cutting the firewood, talking around the campfire, the attack, the final cliffhanger. All of it is prime Walking Dead.
What writer Robert Kirkman does so well here is lace the comic with character development, plant & payoffs, and intense action. A lot of action comics can be boring because we don’t care about the characters but Kirkman pulls a ‘Stephen King’ and gets you into the characters so deep that they feel real. When a character dies or gets bit in this series, especially at the beginning, you can FEEL the gravity of the situation. This isn’t like a movie where they have an hour and forty-five minutes to get through everything so people have to get out of their feelings quickly. No, this is a 192-issue story so Kirkman can take his time to really dig into who everyone is and the effects suffered by unexpected loss.
The backstory, the drama, the spectre of the future, the ghosts of the past, Kirkman does all of this so well. It’s the right balance. This is what I want from the Walking Dead.
Tony Moore is nearing the end of his time on The Walking Dead but while he’s here, he’s going to amaze us every chance he gets. He’s got his work cut out for him this issue with having to draw slow dialogue scenes and then shift gears into action. Definitely the highlight of the issue, visually, is when Jim is pummeling a zombie, reliving his family’s murder at the hands of the walkers. The sequence of panels is wonderful and so emotionally gripping.
Moore does such a great job capturing facial expressions that are horrific for different reasons. Andrea’s face when she explains why she has to shoot someone is so haunting. The group shot of everyone reacting around the fire. For some reason, I’m just a sucker when a comic book artist draws eyes like black dots, without definition. I have no idea why it just always works for me.
Dave McCaig is one of the main reasons we’re here again though. And his colors really elevate this issue. The shooting scene and woods are nice but it’s the light from the campfire as it illuminates the night with blooming oranges and bloody reds are incredible, it adds so much to the scene that it makes me regret having read this in black and white originally because I wish my first time with this scene had been in color! It’s so good. A lot of people are probably still doubting if The Walking Dead Deluxe is worth having been created and see it as a cash grab but I’m telling you, this scene justifies its existence and the rest that will come in the future.
This is what The Walking Dead is. This is also executing on what The Walking Dead Deluxe promises. At the end of every issue, there are old letter pages, which are generally entertaining and there is The Cutting Room Floor where Robert Kirkman details stuff that got cut out of the issues and behind-the-scenes anecdotes. This one was actually worth it though. The past couple were lackluster but there’s a pretty interesting story about Jim here. And Robert Kirkman’s very public vitriol towards Marvel.
Pick this one up, fall in love with The Walking Dead again. And if you’re a newcomer, this proves why you should be reading The Walking Dead Deluxe, go pick up issue #5!