Dead Inside: “The Alien”, or O Brother Where Art Thou

courtesy Image comics

If you are missing your weekly Walking Dead fix waiting for the mid season break to end, I have a fun recommendation for you while you wait: The Walking Dead: The Alien. Granted, this 28 page one-off comic is not much to tide you over, but it is a fun little story that we are not likely to see adapted for television (although I wish it would).

For those of you planning on reading the comic, this is your obligatory spoiler alert.

Back in April 2016, Brian Vaughan and Marcos Martin – who are not associated with The Walking Dead comic, published an online only stand alone comic story for The Walking Dead with full blessings from Robert Kirkman and Image comics. In response to later questions, Kirkman affirmed that the story is indeed Canon, so any characters or events could conceivably make their way into the Walking Dead main comic and show.

courtesy of Image Comics

The title itself is a bit of an inside joke. Kirkman has related in past interviews that when he pitched The Walking Dead he claimed there would be a connection between the zombie outbreak and an alien invasion in order to sell the story, even though he has since categorically confirmed there would be no such plot device. (Thank God).

However, the alien in this story is none other than Jeffrey Grimes, Rick Grimes’ brother, who is travelling in Barcelona, Spain (thus an alien reference) when the zombie apocalypse breaks out. As the main storyline of the comic chooses to focus mainly on the living and the present, and not the dwell on the past (an exception being the Here’s Negan storyline or the Rise of the Governor novels), actually meeting a sibling of our main protagonist is exciting. But beyond the trivial satisfaction of the identity reveal, Jeff Grimes is rather non-descript. It is like meeting a stranger and discovering you both once lived in Podunk, Idaho; at first you think “oh, small world!” then you move on.

courtesy of Image Comics

The true hero of this one off is Claudia, who storms onto the scene as Jeff is about to be killed by zombies, riding a Vespa with a halberd and a knight’s helmet. We later learn she was a museum curator, thus explaining her choice of weapons. She manages to rescue Jeff and tells him of her plan to flee Spain for the U.S. Her plan consists of making her way through the sewers to the docks and taking a boat to Ibiza where a chartered plane awaits. She needs Jeff because he has a working flashlight to get them through the sewers of Barcelona.

The plan goes smoothly until the end when, in true Walking Dead style, a zombie boat captain attacks and this time it is Jeff’s turn to save Claudia, but he is bitten in the process. The comic ends with Jeff’s fate sealed.

courtesy of Image Comics

The comic is gorgeously drawn and adds tints of red, which really works well. We are left with the big question of whether or not Claudia will make it to America and whether or not she will actually meet up with Rick and have the opportunity to tell Rick of Jeff’s heroism. Right now in the main comic, Eugene is talking to some unknown female via CB – could it be Claudia?

Now, while I would like to see these things happen, and while I would like to see more of Claudia’s bad-ass fighting in armor, if Claudia did show up I would have to roll my eyes at the implausibility. For some reason I can suspend my disbelief enough for a zombie apocalypse, but a coincidental meeting? Come on!

courtesy of Image Comics

That said, I would recommend purchasing this online comic, it is a fun read to fill the gap until Season 7 gets rolling again in February. It is offered at a “name your price” at http://panelsyndicate.com/comics/thewalkingdead

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