If you’ve never heard of Panel Syndicate, it’s a very cool site that sells DRM-free digital comics at whatever price you believe to be fair. These aren’t just doodles on someone’s notebook, either. The site boasts some pretty darn good tales, including the 2015 Eisner and Harvey Award winning series The Private Detective.
When news hit that Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin would be collaborating/publishing a story there that was set in The Walking Dead universe (which I learned via AiPT! colleague David Brooke screaming in my ear), many fans of the Image comic franchise—myself included— were all types of excited.
So what is The Walking Dead: The Alien about? How does it relate to the larger Walking Dead mythos?
And is it good?
The Walking Dead: The Alien
- I have to turn my iPad sideways to read this? *grumble, grumble, grumble*
- Ah, that’s not so bad—especially with how great this artwork by Marco Martin looks.
- Okay, either this takes place in a foreign country or I downloaded the wrong file version.
- Yep, foreign country.
- Poor kid ☹
- This Jeff dude is so dead.
- …or not.
- It’s rare to see such a badass person riding a moped.
- Not sure I like this Claudia person’s plan, but Jeff’s short on options.
- NO NO NO!
- Awesome armor = Terrible swimwear.
- Hell yeah!
- Wait…oh…oh geez.
- *puts down iPad*
- *cries in a corner*
Is It Good?
First off, let’s talk about the art, which is exceptional. Martin provides some beautiful backdrops to frame his incredibly detailed action and close quarters brutality. I also like his use of red blood coloring against black and white palette (a la The Rattler).
The story by Brian K. Vaughan is also great, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. He is somehow able to make us care about Jeff and Claudia way more than we should in one issue, which makes the story’s ending all the more painful (in a good way). Their interactions did feel a bit compressed, but that’s likely a product of this being a short story rather than a longer/ serialized tale. I also didn’t care for the way Claudia was initially written, but she grew on me quite a lot by the end.
What really threw me for a loop, however, was the way Alien links into the overall Walking Dead mythos. This story was good enough that it didn’t have to have any overt ties to the main series, but Vaughan utilizes a connective thread that ends up being far more powerful and effective than a simple easter egg.
Part of me wants to see where the story goes next, but as it stands now, The Walking Dead: The Alien is a gem of a tale. Whether Vaughan/Martin ever revisit it or not, I’ll definitely be reading more of their Panel Syndicate output—and paying for it. If their other work is this good, then it’s definitely worth your coin.