This was a surprise.
The Walking Dead: Alien is quite the welcome surprise to the world of The Walking Dead. Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s work here at first might seem like a slice of life within this world that has no impact or connection to the ongoing storyline of The Walking Dead.
And up until the end, it’s just that: showing us the walker outbreak in territory not yet explored in the main series. Sort of like how, in the world of television, Fear the Walking Dead shows us early reactions to the outbreak compared to when Rick woke up from his coma.
From what I can tell, we aren’t given much of an indication of when this all takes place compared to the main series. And I’m fine with this comic not spelling out every detail. But it is a nice change of pace to see other locations affected by the outbreak.
We can at least get a read of the characters we meet. Jeff is selfless and willing to put himself in harm’s way, even if he’s woefully unprepared or ill-equipped to handle a situation. So he shows bravery in the face of danger. Not to the point that he’s willing to lead a group of survivors.
And Claudia reminds me of Michonne and Andrea in that she’s also willing to put herself in danger, but more than capable of holding her own. She’s got a sense of adventure and has a sense of humor. But at the same time, she’s quick to run headfirst into a dangerous situation, as seen when she emerges right in the middle of a herd, but is fine because she knows that the walkers are slow.
She’s also not stoic. Her life during the outbreak and how she’s survived is similar to other survivors and she’s unperturbed by what’s happening since, as she says, Barcelona has been ravaged by plagues before. Reminded me of Black Widow’s line to Loki in The Avengers when she says that regimes fall every day, but since she’s Russian, she doesn’t weep over that.
Plus, I like how she’s not just lounging around and waiting for the world to either revitalize or tear itself apart. She has a mission of getting to the United States since the American government has found a way to contain the outbreak.
And then we get the kicker at the end when we learn that Jeff is Rick’s brother. It’s a way to give us an emotional connection to him since we’ve followed Rick for so long. It’s a payoff to a minor mention from the comics. I forget if it was Rick or Lori who mentioned him, but now we see that, hey, Rick Grimes had some family across the pond.
It’s a bleak ending to know that Jeff will never see his brother again, but that’s the reality of this world. It’d be cliché if either Jeff survived to reunite with Rick or if Claudia somehow made it all the way from Barcelona to the United States, particularly when she has no idea of where to start looking.
Obviously, it’d be far-fetched if Claudia suddenly showed up in Alexandria to give Rick the news. It’d be too neat of a wrap-up and this world has already shown that characters aren’t promised happy endings just because we’re attached to them.
With The Walking Dead show on AMC done for the sixth season and us waiting for the next issue of the comic, this was a nice, quick read that helped build out The Walking Dead universe and show how other parts of the world combat the roamer outbreak. Will we get more of this? No idea, since it feels like a one-off with no connection to the main story until the end.
But either way, a good, short read that gives you your quick roamer fix. And that’s all you really need.