With the arrival of The Walking Dead Deluxe #3 we are thrust into a new dangerous reality along with Rick who has finally reunited with his family, but this is just the calm before the storm as the camp feels poised to erupt at any moment. This issue isn’t so much about the Walkers getting closer and closer, instead it finally takes a chance to slow the pace and build out different character dynamics that make TWD so unique.
Longtime readers all have some sort of fond memories of the early camp with Dale, Jim, Carol and so many others making up the first group that truly feels like “our people” in the midst of such a horrible apocalypse. As interesting as Rick’s struggle really is, it’s this penchant for drama that makes TWD so special time and time again and we finally start to get an idea of the scope of that drama in this third issue. There is a lot to unpack as we get to know everyone but one thing stands out among the rest, there is something off and Rick and Shane’s reunion…
At this point, many know what’s to come out of their relationship but that’s not really the main focus of what brings us here. I’d like to take a broader look at Kirkman’s plotting that really opens the story up to the potential that made so many fall in love. Sure, there are plenty of cringe-worthy moments that even Kirkman draws attention to in the “Cutting Room Floor” after pages such as the women talking about laundry for a full page, but this is honestly our first look at the type of intimate drama that permeates every issue.
The ability to flesh out (pun fully intended) so many different characters isn’t just a strength of issue #3 of TWD, it quickly comes to define the series. With the premise fully laid out by this time, we may still be on the ground floor of the apocalypse but it’s easy to see the uniqueness of what was supposed to be just “some little zombie story” coming to light. It’s the intimate moments that feel inconsequential that make the story worthwhile. Of course it’s great to see a Walker get his head chopped off and how much it scares the group to see that even that won’t kill one, but it’s Lori struggling to look Rick in the eye, Donna creating strife from assumed gender roles, and the general naivety about the group’s situation that makes the series so easy to obsess over.
This isn’t our first time seeing the start of such dramatic revelations, but it is our first time seeing it in such beautifully detailed colors! I feel like this issue is where the nuance of color can really start to shine. We’ve seen the gore already become emphasized in a scary way, but in TWD Deluxe #3 the small details afforded by the colors punctuate emotional undercurrents that could be lost otherwise. A brief moment of clarity as Rick sits alone in the camp becomes a magnificent scene that puts the world into perspective and a single glare threatens to cast a shadow over any peace that may linger.
But for all of its tension, this issue undoubtedly allows the action to take a backseat, placing an even greater importance on the dialogue that takes place. Rus Wooton continues to elevate these early issues with subtle differences that make a big difference in how we interact with the comic itself. Kirkman mentioned by this point he already knew the series would last longer than just six issues and for some, this might translate to the story slowing down by quite a lot compared to what just came before. For me though, it seems to give Kirkman a chance to take a closer look at the character development and set the stage for the more human moments to take the spotlight.
Taking an interesting inspiration from movies like Predator, Kirkman brings a gravitas to the situation that while he may claim feels silly now, still feels powerful. In the small times that we get a chance to catch out breath we begin to understand the weight of what is happening and how reality has changed with no sign of returning to normal. There are social conflicts that we still must deal with simply because we are still humans, and we see the new concept of what living means really start to sink in for Rick in TWD Deluxe #3. As a series that becomes known for its shocking drama, it’s great to see just how early we get a chance to fall for the characters before the worst happens.
The Walking Dead Deluxe #3 may feel less significant than the heartwarming reunion between Rick and Lori but this is where the conflicts begin to go deeper than just the terrors that threaten to eat them alive. It’s where we first get the implication that it might not be the Walkers that we should be most afraid of, but instead those who live among us. That survival means more than just striking Walkers in the head and that trusting those around us truly is a life or death decision.
The Walking Dead Deluxe #3: IN LIVING COLOR
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