Amy is gone. Jim is gone. And now, Shane is gone.
It’s time for the group to give up on their hopes of a return to normalcy anytime soon, of governmental forces sweeping in and taking control of the world once more and most importantly, of any chance at being rescued. As the group struggles to cope with such overwhelming loss in The Walking Dead Deluxe #7, Rick assumes his position as leader and pushes onward.
This issue turns out to be a very by the numbers TWD book. It’s full of talking heads (living, for now) interrupted by some Walker drama that is put to rest before a classic “OH SH!T” moment leaves you with a cliffhanger that is sure to have you crawling back for more. It’s a fun pattern to settle into, there is no denying that, and after losing so much recently it’s nice to get an ending that turns that loss upside down, showing the tragedy of not just life lost, but also life beginning as well. At what could come at possibly the worst time ever, forever fueling speculation of Shane’s lineage, Lori reveals she is pregnant in this issue and the words drop like an anchor in water, taking our hearts down with them. And this comes after a particularly heart-wrenching flashback showing the chemistry that formed between Lori and Shane. This is not the world you want to be carrying a child in, that much we know, but what we don’t know is…
Who is the father?
This drama will long outlive the immediate ramifications of such a pregnancy, and considering that Robert Kirkman wasn’t all that sure about the series continuing past issue #6 this moment feels like a stark rebirth to carry the series forward. We begin to feel the cyclical nature of the series more so now than we ever have up until this point, losing people we cared about only to just as quickly get attached to new people making their way into the group. We grieve for Shane in this episode and witness a rift happen between Rick and Lori but we also welcome a fan favorite character in Tyreese. But before we get too lost in nostalgia for long loved characters, it’s important that we talk about McCaig’s coloring work in bringing this issue to life in a different way.
Not nearly as moody as we’ve already seen so far, but uniquely indicative of the path forward, McCaig’s colors take us from warm feelings betrayed by heavy shadows to darkness searching for a bright light, back and forth, lulling readers into this pattern that makes every issue so engaging and rewarding. The life cycle explored, overwhelming loss and hope rekindled are felt in the color palette that gives a sense of clarity to the group’s struggles. It’s an interesting time to reflect on what it means for the story to release in full color like this, as seemingly mundane moments that turned iconic are shown in a new light, we see new details and nuances that are felt even more noticeably now in the story beats. This is made even more recognizable by Wooton’s expert letters as well, as we shouldn’t forget. But although we are still early in McCaig’s work with issue #7 and we have already begun to see how the colors continue to evolve and shape what is happening in new ways. But as the sun sets on Shane’s life and a new dawn rises bringing immeasurable change to the group, McCaig’s colors promise not just retread territory but a new feeling, invoking new emotions, to a story that feels fresh again after all these years.
There are quite a few developments worth mentioning on the “Cutting Room Floor” with Robert Kirkman as well, offering fun new tidbits of information that lore hounds (like myself) clamor for. We discussed the influence Romero’s work had on Kirkman when we began this journey, and it will continue to be something we explore as the series progresses, but Tyreese personifies something downright badass about Kirkman’s love for the zombie classics. Kirkman latched onto the notion that Romero always had “the black guy” (an outdated stereotype of its time) be the coolest character in the movie. From Duane Jones in Night of the Living Dead to Ken Foree in Dawn of the Dead and Terry Alexander in Day of the Dead, we can see Romero doing however small a part to break down assumptions in entertainment and even the horror genre. With the introduction of Tyreese, Kirkman follows in those footsteps. Tyreese is a strong addition to the group at a time when they really need it as well, and it’s great to see the step forward in a new arc for TWD once more drawing such heavy inspirations from Romero.
More shockingly, there is a line at the bottom of Kirkman’s page of script notes that reads…
“YOU’D THINK SHE GOT A STASH OF GOLDEN EGGS AS MUCH AS SHE’S CLIMBING MY BEAN POLE.”
Sound like any foul-mouthed characters you might know? Kirkman describes the line as a “proto Negan line” and it certainly rings true. Originally meant for Tyreese before being abandoned, it feels like the one and only Negan is already forcing his way into the earliest of scripts in The Walking Dead Deluxe #7. It’s hilarious and even a bit haunting, but out of all the exciting bits of information and lore we’ve gotten from the “Cutting Room Floor” this one is hands down my favorite so far. It will be another 93 issues before we are truly introduced to Negan, but here we can see a glimpse of unaware foreshadowing that gives the series just an extra tinge of magic.
Ultimately, The Walking Dead Deluxe #7 is another absolute joy in a series that surprises even a longtime fan like myself. McCaig’s outstanding colors bring new elements to appreciate that you wouldn’t be able to guess before reading yourself and Kirkman seems to be having fun in the afterwards looking back at the early writing processes. And if something looks a little different for readers following along issue by issue, this is also the introductory comic from longtime artist extraordinaire Charlie Adlard. Tony Moore did some stellar work in the early issues, but Charlie Adlard’s work hits iconic levels very quickly and issue #7 is where it all started. Now you can revisit it in full color!
Though the ending is a dramatic cliffhanger, there is no denying what both Charlie Adlard and Dave McCaig bring to the series, elevating it to a truly timeless standard.
The Walking Dead Deluxe #7: IN LIVING COLOR
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