The second issue of The Walking Dead Deluxe has arrived and you know what that means, it’s time for another installment of IN LIVING COLOR! Although it was originally stated that we would be getting a new issue every two weeks, the second issue comes almost a month after the premiere.
Worry not however, because it is well worth the wait!
The series finds itself in an interesting place in this revisit packed with brilliant colors by Dave McCaig, navigating some of the earliest days of the apocalypse and delicately avoiding the cause in favor of diving into the immediate consequences of such a terrible event. Compared to the first issue, there is a LOT that happens which sets the stage for some of the most memorable and heartfelt TWD moments. The influences we explored in our initial discussion for the first issue remain all too apparent, with Romero’s work coming into full focus as Rick finally makes his way into Atlanta. This is where we really see the story take shape outside of the shocking revelations of an apocalypse, giving the series a chance to truly start building character drama that will make up the foundation of what makes TWD so successful.
For many, a reference of character drama in the second issue will undoubtedly stir feelings of the emotional reunion of Rick and his family, Lori and Carl, back at the camp just outside of Atlanta. Sure it is everything you want it to be, tugging at your heart and showing that the series can be so much more than just devastation and gore. But for some like myself, a much more humble introduction happens in the second issue, bringing us an undoubtedly fan-favorite character Glenn. His first line in the series is “I can get you of here. Follow me.“, and nothing could ever be more appropriate for such a caring character. These small moments of humanity are emphasized by the tragedy of their situation and once more hearken to the impact classic horror storytellers like Romero had on Kirkman.
But this isn’t just The Walking Dead, this is the DELUXE vision now in full color. Of course the gore is more vivid and the Walkers even more terrifying than before, but in those moments of brief humanity the colors bring out something entirely new. It livens the expressions and creates a more palpable emotional intensity. McCaig has almost immediately tapped into the more subtle elements of the series, understanding when to let the characters carry the story and when to highlight the incredible artwork with new and interesting details. The nuance such colors brings in the face of such overwhelming forces of darkness elevates not just the horror as we expected, but also the heartwarming sense of humanity that is found everywhere from Glenn being Rick’s savior to Lori and Carl sprinting towards Rick with tears all around.
This nuance isn’t only punctuated by McCaig’s colors though, as there is another influencing factor that helps to refine the story compared to the original release. In the first 19 issues of the black and white TWD comics, Kirkman himself actually did the lettering. Now we have Rus Wooton back executing with the precision that readers came to love and it is absolutely noticeable. There has been no rewriting because that’s a dangerous game, but there are slight adjustments that may seem inconspicuous but truly make all the difference in how we engage with the story. Balloon placement, font emphasis and so much more all work together to create a more satisfying pacing and overall reading experience.
As we discussed the historical precedent involved with the introduction of color to a series inspired by classic black and white horror after the first issue’s release, this one ultimately comes down to execution. In the afterward “cutting room floor” we discover so much more than just insight into Kirkman’s scripting process, we actually get a firsthand look at the original pitch that was sent to Image. This includes a brief description and a 5-page short that Kirkman now laments as “cliche”, but it’s difficult not to see the profundity in such a simple concept executed so brilliantly. Though Lori was originally named Carol (confusing, I know) and the short story takes place in the comfort of their home, it still captures the “OH SH!T” moments that only TWD can deliver, showing the promise the series held even in its earliest days. It’s a remarkable moment for comparison to see how things started with just a simple pitch after just reading through the colorized second issue of a story now beloved by so many.
Kirkman also provides some insight on his influences outside of just classic horror films as well, giving us a better picture of the style of execution that helped the series come to fruition. His approach to a “McFarlane” style of writing where filling the pages with words then scaling way back works well with the pacing in this issue, but even Kirkman admits the beginning resembles something closer to a “Larson” style than anything. Both Todd McFarlane and Erik Larson are titans in the industry and arguably more importantly, co-founders of Image itself, the home of TWD. Kirkman certainly brings his own flair to these styles and shows that originality can still be found, even in a little indie horror book that nobody was supposed to really care about!
After an exhilarating second issue that shows an outpouring of heart following the sense of doom that made up the first issue, the contrast of life and death becomes all too apparent. All of its painful suffering, uplifting and unfiltered joy plus everything in between will be laid bare in the story to come. Confronted with unbearable tragedy, The Walking Dead reveals the humanity inside us all and brings the importance of holding onto those you care about most to the forefront. Though we are still essentially in the beginning, the fundamental traits that make the series so special are already coming through in a remarkable way, accentuated by the spectacle of color from McCaig.
The Walking Dead Deluxe #2: IN LIVING COLOR
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