For more than a decade now, creator Robert Kirkman has been the primary creator of the Walking Dead, partnering with a select few artists to build out the bleak, incredibly successful comics series. Now, two more comics superstars have entered the zombie apocalypse with a beautiful side story that you can read for almost no money at all. Brian K. Vaughan has written and co-created killer comics work like Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina and Saga. Artist Marcos Martin's lean, kinetic art style has graced top-line series like Amazing Spider-Man and Batgirl: Year One. Together, they have produced The Private Eye, one of the best modern comics series. This week, with Kirkman's blessing, they're releasing The Walking Dead: The Alien on their pay-what-you-want digital distribution portal Panel Syndicate.
From the very first page of the story, you know you're getting a very different vantage point on Kirkman's zombie apocalypse. Martin's linework is lighter than Charlie Adlard's signature style, and the delicately rendered architectural silhouettes clue readers in that this isn't America. Set in Barcelona during the early days of the outbreak, "The Alien" focuses on two characters: an American male tourist name Jeff and a Spanish woman named Claudia.
After Claudia saves Jeff's life in dramatic fashion, the two enter into the kind of symbiotic relationship often seen in The Walking Dead. They need each other to survive. Turns out survival runs in Jeff's family...
"The Alien" isn't the kind of story that will drastically change the status quo of The Walking Dead. But you should read it because it's a well-executed, self-contained exemplar of the kinds of stories that can happen in this depressing world.