Review – The Walking Dead #66 (Image, 2009)

Warning – mild spoilers.

“What we’ve done to survive….sometimes I feel like we’re no better than the dead ones”
Rick Grimes, Walking Dead #66

Walking Dead week is a great week. I get to read one of the best pieces of contemporary fiction but I also get to write a little review on my little blog and it is a real highlight of the month for me. It’s the little things….Since Kirkman laid down his manifesto for ’09 – to get his titles out on time, every month – I have been even happier. Walking Dead has made its shipping date every time this year, without any sign of fatigue or quality control issues. In fact, looking back on this concluding issue of ‘Fear the Hunters’, and looking back over the arc as a whole, I can now say I was wrong if I ever doubted what Kirkman was doing with this storyline. I just didn’t understand. I take it all back, as issue 66 actually sits up at the top as one of the best, if not the best, of the series so far, and the arc……well, more on that later.

First up, issue 66.

So much happens, yet so much of it is not what you would expect. Understated, moving, tense – this issue has all of these qualities. The Hunters confrontation is not what you would expect – it is a testament to Adlards creativity and confidence that he would produce so many splash pages, double page spreads and quick fire panels that deal with violence without actually showing any of the acts that were perpetrated. He does not have to show the explicit details – this is an artist so in tune with his subject matter and characters that all he needs to do is show the anger or despair in the characters faces, accompanied by a few stark images of the aftermath. It is excellent.

The art really distinguishes a lot of the Walking Dead, and here it is again on a par with Kirkmans plotting and dialogue in creating a fully rounded piece of art. I have just been re-reading a scene with Dale and Rick, where Dale is lying on a bed, close to death. The art captures the man as a broken old man, his stubble resting on his double chin, his eyes weary of the fights, but Adlard also manages to infuse a nobility about him, which, when coupled with Kirkmans redemptive dialogue, provides a highlight of this issue. But I could go on, as there are so many highs – like the father / son reunion, Abraham about to go psycho on the reverend, Ricks cold killer stare, completely devoid of feelings – and the final panels between Rick and Carl which are absolutely stunning – between them, Kirkman and Adlard manage to portray a dam-burst of emotion with a few well chosen panels and few words. Adlard can draw a child quivering on the edge of tears like no other artist. Stunning.

So, what of the arc overall? Well, I had my reservations up to last issue, but the fact is that this arc is probably better enjoyed as a trade – the pieces fit together in a way that is quite remarkable, whereas those of us who buy the singles maybe don’t get the bigger picture with the piecemeal offerings. Whatever – the ‘Hunters’ arc was not going to be another ‘No-one is safe’, and is all the better for it. ‘Fear the Hunters’ opens up so many possibilities beyond issue 66, with new revelations, a new mindset amongst some of the group, and an overall sense of urgency brought about by dwindling food supplies. There was no whole scale clear out of the cast, and again, the title retains its integrity and quality by constantly managing to sidestep what the readers expectations are, and give them something so much better. The ‘fear’ in the arc title retains a lot of power throughout this arc – ‘fear’ of the future, ‘fear’ of what the individuals are becoming, the fear of loss and losing loved ones (and for a while there was a fear of the Hunters – and subsequently who are the Hunters? etc).

My Walking Dead week is nearing its end. I would like to thank Kirkman, Adlard, Rathburn, Image Comics and whoever else is responsible for producing this shining light of a comic every month. It gives me immense pleasure to read it, to write about it, to speculate on it. Thank you.

One more thing – is Kirkmans position as an elevated member of the Image board influencing the content of Walking Dead? More and more often, after ‘Chew’ was previewed in it a few issues back, The Walking Dead now hosts preview pages of upcming titles on a regular basis. Not really a criticism, more an observation, though to be honest, more pages of The Walking Dead itself would be more welcome than bolted on previews.

7 thoughts on “Review – The Walking Dead #66 (Image, 2009)”

  1. re: this arc delivering – told you so! :Dbut yeah, it rather blew me away too. the lack of histrionics, the coldness displayed in the execution of the execution felt more like Bergman than pulp. i love that we don't get the punctuation of actually seeing Chris torn apart (or, for that manner, so much as harmed) – that wonderful panel of him crying up against the wall totally distills the 'fear' aspect of the many little moments were heartbreaking:- andrea's single-panel looking down after they pitch that dude into the fire, a mix of relief and "what have i done?" summed up perfectly, and *then* she deals with her promise silently. i'm 100% worried about that character now; that's some next-level loss.- the rick/carl quid pro quo- glenn getting a line of dialogue- dale and rick making peace- rosita being so darned good for abrahamin this issue, more than any other, it – at risk of sounding melodramatic – finally saw a number of central characters shift into different creatures entirely, and they all know it."Adlard can draw a child quivering on the edge of tears like no other artist."truth – i very, very nearly blubbed.this series has turned me into a nerd.

  2. Hi NickI concede – you were right,a dn i was wrong ;-)I think this arc – as great as it is – is a good argument for waiting for the trades as opposed to the single issues. As a whole, the 5 parts are gripping but are basically a build up to that issue 66 pay off (and yes, it is a hell of a pay off). Therefore, the reader would benefit from getting that trade hit as opposed to a protracted 4 or 5 months of reading the thing.You raise some good points (and thanks for your comments – you really bring more to these reviews on here, so please continue to contribute). Re – Glenn. He has been so far in the background that his appearance did not really register, but it was good to see him, Maggie and Sophia together.Re – Rosita. That was a killer panel.I agree completely that this issue is a fundamental turning point in the series. You hear a lot of times in comics that 'things will never be the same', but Kirkman tends to deliver on this, when a lot of other titles deal in hyperbole and no substance. What went on in issue 66 will have far reaching repercussions for the storyline. I think that what Kirkman and Adlard are doing with this title right now shows how completely in tune they are with each other. It is one amazing creative team – probably the best there is in modern day comics.Next time around, we get an issue focussing on Eugene, which should be a shift in mood, but no less exciting for it.I love this title.And Nick – don't worry about the nerd thing – it happened to me too, but that is something we both have to deal with on a monthly basis ;-)Until next time…….TWLB

  3. I can't tell you guys how happy I am that Robert Kirkman is finally moving Glenn back into action. He is by far one of my favorite characters and I was really dissapointed that he hasn't had that big of a role in the last I don't know 20 issues! *end of rant*

  4. re-read #66 last night. given that subtlety and detail is all over the place in this title, where was Morgan at the funeral?interested to whether it's down to sitting it out for the sake of not shovelling any more grief onto himself, or something more sinister.

  5. Hi Nickyou spotted something else there. I reckon we are going to be seeing Morgan pushed back up into the front line of the cast pretty soon. He is a ticking timebomb for sure and one of the more intersting characters that Kirkman has in place for future plotting.Nick, what do you mean by 'something more sinister'? Do you think Morgan is going mad, murderous or something else? Like to get your thoughts on that.CheersTWLB

  6. no real speculation on my part beyond what you say i.e. he's been twitchy for a while, calmed down in recent issues, and now he's at best isolating himself or, worse, losing the be honest, we're at a post now where post-woodbury, post calamitous death all-round, and now post-Hunters, whatever happens next is likely to be a big phase-shift – this recent arcs feels more like a primer to a game-changer rather than the event itself, if that makes short, I've no idea what's going along, totally loving the ride though!nickp.s. solicitation for #69? hot damn!

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