Death, taxes, and The Walking Dead. Not even cancellation and ending could keep this series from stopping! The Walking Dead Deluxe marches on as the experiment of adding colors by Dave McCaig and the redone lettering by Rus Wooton continue as scheduled, unlike my reviews! But, I’m back to talk about The Walking Dead Deluxe again!
We finally get to pick up on the cliffhanger from #8 where we find out that the gated Wilshire neighborhood might not be as safe as we thought. Robert Kirkman executed his set-up pretty well here. There are some interesting effects on the earlier issues of the series that aren’t present later. Story arcs like Shane and the Wilshire houses would’ve been stretched to eternity if this was later on in the series, but early on, Kirkman wasn’t sure if The Walking Dead was going to last, so a lot of his plotting has the short game in mind. He’s just trying to complete narrative arcs to the best of his ability, as quickly as he can so nothing gets left behind if the comic were to get canceled. I wish this pit stop had lasted a bit longer, but I absolutely understand the mindset he was in and don’t hold it against him.
Something else to note is how hard Kirkman telegraphed the shock scene of the issue. A character dies but the earlier scenes all but spell out what is going to happen in a scene that is supposed to be a surprise. He even notes it in The Cutting Room Floor segment at the end of the issue where he talks about his writing process. It was all still good, but it is also an interesting choice to place a big twist like that in the MIDDLE of the issue, rather than at the end. It’s interesting because I think the twist at the end feels less effective because it’s coming so fast on the heels of something else, but there wasn’t much to fill that space either to push the mid-issue twist to the end. It’s just an interesting structural decision to me.
The past couple Charlie Adlard issues have had me wondering if The Walking Dead is worth being in color under his pen. Tony Moore, most certainly, I love his artwork in color. But, Charlie? His work is so good in black and white, I almost like his work better in greyscale because of his extraordinary talent at using shadows. That being said, these are the issues where the color is key.
Once the ‘walkers’ make their appearance, almost all questions of ‘should this be colored?’ fade away. The blood on the snow, the deaths, the emotion and gunfire, and panic, all seem so much more vivid with the colors provided by Dave McCaig. Since the issues before this were more about the setup and conversation, we didn’t see the full benefit of coloring Adlard’s work, but now I’m sold. I am looking forward to future issues that I know are going to look amazing in color.
A last note though, and I’ll talk about this a little later in future reviews (I’m reviewing a comic series that started nearly 20 years ago, we’re going to find other stuff to talk about, trust me), but I wasn’t too thrilled with the cover by David Finch. I found it nice, but the variants definitely stole the show. The cover is basically a, barely, reimagined panel from the interior artwork. Unless it’s a digital series like the DC Digital Firsts? I want the cover art to stand out, there are a lot of factors to a good cover and it has a whole different set of criteria for what makes a good, or bad, cover.
At this point, I’m going to stop with the ‘if you like Walking Dead, you’ll like this issue-‘ platitudes. If you’re reading this, I know you LOVE The Walking Dead. Robert Kirkman has some really interesting structural choices this issue that I find odd, but not distressing. He is trying to pull a trick where the main threat seems over halfway, only to double down on something bigger at the end. But, if I remember correctly, it’s not going to be some thrilling reversal/continuation of the intense drama. He makes some interesting choices that I don’t think necessarily work, but they don’t fail either. It makes for some nice observation on Kirkman’s growth as a writer as he tries to move out of the mindset of ‘I’m about to get canceled’.
The Letter Pages are intense, Letter Hacks takes up 3-pages in this issue. Of course, it’s not as many as when he did past + concurrent Letter Hacks, which was simply too much, but there were very few that were interesting. My favorite was the person who blasted Kirkman for his grammatical illiteracy. And even funnier that Kirkman put it in, responded defensively, and continued to mock him by using poor grammar afterward. The Cutting Room Floor segment has been dangerously boring though, this should be a big highlight of the series. In Letter Hacks, past-Robert Kirkman says that there has been buzz about a Walking Dead TV show. That’s really interesting considering how far away we were from the AMC show. So who was he talking to? That could’ve been a really interesting conversation in the CRF portion of the issue. Instead, it’s boring writing notes that are generally pointless. Kirkman is phoning in this segment most weeks.