Review – The Walking Dead #80 (image, 2011)

Finally, ‘No Way Out’ begins, with an intriguing mix of horror and sex that really fits in with the end-of-times feel of this new arc. Trapped in their community haven, quickly being surrounded by an ever growing horde of the undead, Rick firmly takes charge, with solid support from Abraham and Michonne. Douglas, the ‘leader’ of this community, is reduced to a bit-player, full of remorse and regret.

The opening is solid action-horror, the stuff that we do not get to see too often in TWD, but always welcome. From there, Kirkman lays out the plot threads that will run their course of the next 4 or 5 issues – romance, illicit affairs (where did that come from? or…WTF???), Andrea in the Watchtower, the rise of Rick as Leader, the downfall of Douglas. There will be death (there is one in this issue), and there will be plenty of drama. My only criticism is that in places Kirkman still wants to fill Adlard’s art up with word balloons. Morgan has a lengthy speech (a lengthy, stilted speech). Carl and Rick has their obligatory Father/Son speech/hug/tears. That is beginning to grate on me. I understand why Kirkman uses these scenes with Carl and Rick – it humanises Rick, gives him his motivation and also reminds us that Carl is still a little boy who needs his Father and is vulnerable…..but there is something about these scenes I find a little trite and over-used. Let’s have more Eugene, Michonne, Morgan, the Rev, Glenn, Maggie & Sophia. Speaking of which….there is a single panel shot of those last 3 that Adlard frames so beautifully that Kirkman could write words to put in balloons all day and would not get close to the sadness and beauty of that picture. I don’t need to tell you that Adlard and Rathburn are as good as ever.

It’s a solid start for this new arc. I think ‘No Way Out’ could prove to be another highlight for this series, my only concern is that if Kirkman does not curb his tendency towards verbosity, the shift from action and horror to lengthy discourse could prove too jarring. We shall see. One thing is certain, Kirkman is laying down a lot of story to be resolved over the next few issues.

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