The Walking Dead: The Alien is a stand-alone short story set in Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead comic book series. It was written by American writer Brian K. Vaughan, who is best known for writing the comic book series Saga, Y the Last Man, Paper Girls, and Ex Machina. The illustrations were done by comic book artist Marcos Martin, who has produced work for DC titles including Batgirl: Year One, Breach, Dr Strange: The Oath, Amazing Spider-Man and Daredevil. The Walking Dead: The Alien was a 32-page comic that was originally published on 20 April 2016 on PanelSyndicate.com. The hardback edition is 72 pages long and was published by Image Comics on 29 July 2020 and includes never-before-seen designs, sketches and layouts. This review will contain spoilers.
The Alien tells the story of an American tourist named Jeff who ends up stranded in Spain in the early days of a zombie outbreak. After finishing college, Jeff saved up some money and decided to go travelling. He booked a flight to Barcelona first, because of his love for the book Homage to Catalonia. Not long after he arrived, he found out that his brother had been shot back home and was in hospital. When Jeff tried to return home, he found that he couldn't leave the country, because the zombie outbreak had begun. Trapped and unable to leave Spain, Jeff is left to try and survive on his own, an alien in the zombie apocalypse.
The Walking Dead: The Alien had great potential, but at only 32 pages long I felt it was far too short and failed to live up to expectations. The illustrations and artwork were great, but there was very little character development and I felt the story suffered from a lack of a defined three-act structure due to the limitations put on its length. I felt like this book could have been great, but it was rushed. I wanted to know more about the main character, but felt like Vaughan barely scratched the surface of him.
It's a shame this book was so disappointing. So much more could have been done with it. A good book to compare it too would be "Here's Negan!" which tells the origin story of Negan in a single collected hardback edition. In just 72 pages, Robert Kirkman tells the reader who Negan was before the apocalypse, what his relationship with his wife was like before she died, and how he learned to survive and become the leader of the Saviors. It had a clear beginning, middle and a satisfying conclusion. The Alien doesn't have any of that. It doesn't give me enough time to learn to care about the characters and ends on a whimper.