Just when fans think they know what to expect from Robert Kirkman's world of the living vs. the dead, does anyone remember the time that aliens invaded The Walking Dead?
Over the past 14 years of the popular Image Comics title, readers have seen an eye-patched madman, a villainess who wears the skin of the dead, and the latest addition of the purple-haired Princess and her furry pink coat. However, heading back to 2010, Kirkman threw the rulebook out the window and made aliens into an even bigger threat than shuffling hordes of the undead.
Discussing his "Greatest Story Never Told" with EW, the creator of the zombie apocalypse revealed how the whole situation of adding aliens to The Walking Dead came to be:
"Very early on in the series I started getting letters where people would say, ‘You say you’re going to do this book for a really long time, but this idea doesn’t seem to have any legs.' My response as a joke was, ‘Oh, we’re going to this until issue 75, and then I’m going to run out of ideas, and then I’m going to do an alien invasion and just kind of completely ruin the book. That’s when we’ll jump the shark and it’ll be terrible and everybody will hate it.’”
Of course, with the comic now at Issue #172, 75 issues were far from the end of the road. However, with a rise in popularity, Kirkman knew that fans from the early days would expect some something big from Issue #75, and it was an issue he would have to address:
“When we got to issue 75, I knew that I’d publicly joked about that and it was kind of a thing that the fanbase knew about. Like, ‘Oh, 75, that’s when the aliens come in, right?’”
Even in the hyper-unrealistic world of zombie plagues, deadly katana-wielding survivors, and having a wire-wrapped baseball bat as the weapon of choice, many would struggle to see how aliens could fit into the storyline. Luckily, Kirkman had a fairly out there solution, and Issue #75 included a "gag" panel. In an alternate ending to the issue, there were scenes that depicted aliens coming down to Earth, Rick sporting a superhero costume, and the Governor returning as a one-eyed cyborg. Those who had read the "Letters Hacks" page in the middle of the issue would know it was all a joke, but safe to say, some readers were less than impressed. According to Kirkman, he received hate mail from fans who said that he had "ruined" the comic using such a ridiculous twist.
The irony is that people clearly doubted the longevity of the title in its early days. Now, with two shows, an incoming crossover with Fear The Walking Dead, and the comic still going strong, it is hard to imagine a time when TWD was shuffling off to an early grave. However, the big question now is, will the upcoming Issue #175 have another alien invasion? Thankfully, it is safe to say there probably isn't the budget to bring little green men to AMC's show when The Walking Dead returns on October 22.