If you thought the death of Amy in issue #5 was bad, the end of what is described as the first arc making up the first trade paperback ends in a moment of disastrous friendship that has long been etched into history, one that no fan will likely be forgetting anytime soon. But let’s not jump the metaphorical and literal gun, because we also endure the loss of Jim in The Walking Dead Deluxe #6 and it’s every bit as heartbreaking the second time around.
Let’s dig into our sixth edition of The Walking Dead Deluxe, IN LIVING COLOR!
TWD in full color sounds fun at first, seeing the brutal gore of the zombies makes the horror side of the series even more prominent and the nuance of the series such as the iconic settings and dramatic reactions more noticeable. But it is also, as we began to truly see in the previous issue with Amy’s death and Jim’s bite, even more emotionally difficult at times. We see the group mourning Amy’s death while still trying to come to terms with what is happening with Jim, all while dissent brews between the arguable leaders Rick and Shane. It’s a painful issue to read and it doesn’t have a single Walker in it. A testament to the strength of the character drama already so firmly established just six issues in.
Dave McCaig’s colors have what could be the biggest impact on the story yet. The subtleties of Andrea’s choice of inspired colors and even the uniforms of both Rick and Shane that distinguish them in the group give the story an added depth that is quickly taking shape, giving a more unique experience compared to the original release. But there is more than just subtle choices, there is an overbearing tone shift that is especially noticeable as we reach the issue’s climax. From the first pages of the issue we can see that it’s getting much, much colder outside, but there is a transitional moment that happens with Jim’s passing, bringing on the snow and creating an even crueler environment. It brings cooler grey tones to the aesthetic only to be sharply interrupted by the orange and red hues of rage that take hold in the fight between Rick and Shane.
Kirkman has some interesting notes in the “cutting room floor” details, showing that he went so far as to considering killing Rick off in this heated moment with Shane. Having Shane kill Rick in front of Carl would’ve undoubtedly changed the series entirely from what it eventually came to be. It’s an interesting concept, considering what the series would’ve looked like helmed by Shane as the group’s leader, but what we see in the trauma inflicted to Carl is arguably worse. The fight between Rick and Shane escalates rapidly and there really isn’t a chance to take it all in before Carl does the unexpected and guns Shane down. For longtime readers, this moment is an early signifier of what Carl’s path is to become. This is a pivotal moment for both Carl and Shane, and though I’ll attempt to refrain from spoiling how the series ends so early, I believe this moment has some intriguing impacts on the conclusion of TWD, aligning Carl to an understanding that he carries with him his entire life.
Wrapping up the first trade with a series of tragedies from Amy to Jim to Shane is certainly a hell of a way to keep reader’s engaged in the series, but this is one of the issues that stands out even so much later, because it is memorable in both the best and worst of ways. It’s an increasingly great example of what the series brings to the table, making it apparent that character drama can in fact carry an episode as long as it is framed within this apocalyptic reality. With no Walkers in sight, we still get our most shocking issue yet in TWD Deluxe #6 and it sets up a new direction for the series with even more emotional ramifications.
We began the IN LIVING COLOR commentary under the notion that TWD is a story that will make you want to hold your loved ones even closer, and I mentioned that we would be bringing it up quite often because it honestly is what the whole franchise does best. In The Walking Dead Deluxe #6 we find that passion visualized within the story itself with Rick holding Carl tightly after killing Shane so gruesomely. The looming natural push for survival in the worsening snow and the immediate dangers before them while thrust into an unpredictable world sets the stage for loved ones to lean on each other more than ever. Rick is no different and what Carl just had to do changes their relationship forever, they understand the weight of the moment, the fear, regret, urgency, and love for one another and we leave with a final page that does a remarkable job of summing up the emotional toll of the series.
The Walking Dead Deluxe #6 wraps up the first arc in a way that I feel is more successful than ever thanks to the colors from McCaig, elevating the tone to capture the epic tragedy that unfolds so very well. The whole issue will weigh on your heart but keep you eager to turn every page. It’s a tough pill to swallow, and it’s difficult to keep in mind that we are still just getting started, but there is no doubt that by this point we can get a clear picture of just how much heartache the series can inflict.
Hope you’re ready for more.
The Walking Dead Deluxe #6: IN LIVING COLOR
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