I was not so sure about this current arc, doubting it, thinking it a retread of the woodbury prison siege, an echo of the high point of this great comic.
Then issue 83 happened, and this current arc stands alongside that prison massacre as the pinnacle of this gripping, human drama. Providing, that is, that Kirkman doesn’t screw it up in the final chapter ( issue 84 ). There is potential for that, as the final shocking pages are not definitive events, there is the possibility that one central character, who is surely near death, could be saved. But that would spoil what Kirkman has achieved in this issue, in a way that I think would tarnish the series and damage it’s reputation as a no holds barred portrayal of the end of days.
There is a real sense of panic, confusion and terror throughout this issue, as Rick formulates a plan (based on earlier adventures with Glenn) to get his small group out of the besieged community. This is powerful, raw storytelling, where the hard-earned experiences of Rick, Carl and Michonne are in stark contrast to the way those in the walled community handle this terrifying reality. There are some panels in these pages that literally made me gasp, Kirkman and Adlard pulling no punches. A lot of people die in this issue.
While the situation of Rick and his group takes precedence, there are brief interludes where the fate of some of the other cast is far from resolved. Indeed, no-one is safe, the ghastly rolling waves of undead, insistent and single minded in their objective, make this arc the one where Kirkman delivers an epic zombie tale, as opposed to an epic human drama. This arc is truly all about the dead, and death, and dying. It is shocking, moving and absolutely brilliant. One of the five best issues of the series. If the finale of No Way Out delivers the way issue 83 has, then the series has truly been altered in a way unimaginable a few months ago.
Looks likely that that community spirit will be going down with that wall. It’s a potential clear out of Walking Dead cast members! It’s another ‘No-one is Safe’! It even has ‘No’ in the tagline! Let’s hope it lives up to the hype better than ‘Fear the Hunters’!
Does it excite me? Of course!
And that’s all the exclamation marks I have for this week, used up in one post.
Warning – potential spoilers – disclosure of recent events in The Walking Dead up to issue 61
There are my predictions on those who will fall during the forthcoming ‘Fear the Hunters’ arc;
Rosita – 7-1
and those who might fall at the hands of the survivors;
Father Gabriel Stokes 5-1
As you can see, I am probably playing it safe and not going for any bold picks – Dales exit has been telegraphed for the last few issues, I reckon Andrea will fall with him, Glenn is expendable as he is never really at the forefront… Rosita and Morgan are probably good outside bets, though I think Kirkman will not want to waste such an interesting character as Morgan, especially when he held him in reserve for 5 years and only recently brought him back, with the tragedy of losing his son. Then again, he might well dispense with him. It is that unpredictable. That is why he is at 5-1. There is a lot of mileage left in the mystery that is Dr Eugene Porter, and Abraham and Carl are virtually guaranteed safety, as they are the most interesting and fulfilling characters in the series at the minute – the way Kirkman has written Carl further, deeper into the story is quite brilliant, the child turning into an embittered, embattled survivor before our eyes. The difference between him and Sophia (who is still largely mute and maybe even more of a child than ever, regressing further back after all that has happened) is more than a chasm. Their relationship is more protector / protected than childhood friends.
But….if another child goes (and lets face it, there are only 2 left at the minute) it will be her – though I doubt Kirkman will do that. For now. Rick is a little less safe than Abraham and Carl, but should make it. Michonne is the one that perplexes me most. Largely absent from the main story since the Prison siege and the Woodbury attack, she seems to be waiting to be struck out of the series, just treading water…..but surely Kirkman would not get rid of such a fantastic and strong female character (especially if Andrea goes)?
Is Father Gabriel Stokes all he seems? This is another fascinating question. Personally, I think he is there as a plant amongst the group, a beacon for the Hunters. He could fall quickly if he is identified as an imposter. Lets face it, Rick, Carl and Abraham do not waste any time in getting rid of potential threats – there is no hand wringing or moral quandry. He could be one of the first to go. My prediction is that Sgt Ford does the deed.
Finally – an outside piece of speculation;
EUGENE PORTER IS A HUNTER. HE HAS LED THE GROUP TO THIS SITUATION.
Odds on that? 75-1. You never know.
Check out the CBR link below to find out, amongst other things, that the Hunters do indeed hunt for sport, and that Glenn is likely to be one of their victims…..
My god that was intense. After the relatively lackluster issue 60, this time around The Walking Dead got firmly back on track. This could, in fact, be the best of the series yet. No joke.
Warning – Spoilers ahead. Do not carry on reading this review if you do not wish to know what happens in issue 61.
There are a few writers who can produce this sort of post-apocalyptic scdenario and make it work. But as far as I am concerned, only Robert Kirkman can manage the complexities of human relationships and make every action and reaction seem unforced. Here, he does it again.
This is the bit you really should not read if you don’t want the issue spoiled for you. Each page seems to drip with significance, like Dale mentioning to Andrea that there hadn’t been any roamers recently. Well, that will be the Hunters who are watching you from the shadows….But more than that, so much more than that, is the one incident that is so devastating that it dominates the rest of the issue and all the other events from there. The death of Billy, at the hands of Ben. It is so shocking, so upsetting, but it is how the survivors react that is more interesting. Michonne (why is she in the background so much – has Kirkman forgotten about her? Or is she next for the chop?), Maggie and Glenn are bystanders as first Abraham, then Rick, come to a pretty quick decision on how to deal with the young murderer. Too dangerous to be left alive, as he is locked in the back of the newly acquired van, these 2 men decide that he must be killed. Dale and Andrea are appalled, Maggie also, but there is little to change their minds. Abraham’s physical appearance takes a darker, graver turn, the menace and violence simmering off him in a palpable heat. The Rick and Abraham alliance now seems fully formed. But even more shocking is the next turn of events. Carl, in the middle of the night, wakes, leaves his hat as a decoy in his bed, and face contorted with hatred, kills Ben with his pistol. That facial expression, so like Ricks before he killed the redneck a few issues back. Like Father like Son.
Carl is now truly a character in his own right – trying to shield Sophia from the devastation of Billys body, he is making independent but fundamental decisions for the good of the group. I am unsure whether his killing of Ben was revenge or a conscious decision to protect the group. Whatever – it hit like a hammer. At that point, I think my mind was a little blown. From out of nowhere, Kirkman and Adlard had created the most explosive issue of The Walking Dead, and without fanfare – lets remember that the big ‘hunter’ arc starts next time, with issue #62 – had again amazed and moved me.
As for the preacher on the cover, a Father Gabriel Stokes (is the surname a clue? ‘Stoking’ the fires of hatred, a herald for the hunters?), his appearance seems peripheral. In fact, I think his appearance is a slight hindrance to the storm clouds gathering over the survivors, with their quiet anguish and the fear, their fury and their deadly pragmatism. I think his involvement is fundamental – surely his appearance has a purpose? – and I guess that purpose will be revealed soon enough.
Charlie Adlard’s subtle framing is superb, letting you see enough of the death of Billy without it being gratuitous. It is explicit, but it is subtle. Does that make sense? He is as important to the book as Kirkman – his characters come alive from the pages, whether it is Dales despair, or Abrahams dark commitment to do what has to be done to survive. He can convey their moods in such a way that Kirkman does not have to over elaborate with words. Here, truly, the pictures tell their own story.
What else? More little details – like Eugenes radio still not working (those little doubts being put into our mind – is he for real? Is he with the Hunters?). The Walking Dead has a poisonous, paranoid atmosphere right now – filled with death and despair, mistrust and violence, the group fragmenting….and then, as you might expect if you are a long term Walking Dead reader, there is a superb cliffhanger. I will say no more, but believe me when I say it is worth it. Okay, I will say one word. Hunters.
THE WALKING DEAD #63
Written by Robert Kirkman,
art and cover by Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn.
The hunt continues! Who will be the next to fall?
32 pages, black and white, $2.99, in stores on July 15
Solicitation information from;
So………..we know this artwork, we have seen it before, but as a cover it is given a new lease of life. Simply put, this piece of art suggests someone is either dead or wounded, and whoever is at the end of those weapons is following up (mopping up?). Could those bloody boot prints be from Army issue boots? Could the blood be Abrahams? The fact that the solicitation states ‘The hunt continues! Who will be the next to fall?’ means we are going to be witness to a storyline where some of the characters die. Probably. Not long to find out, providing the ‘On time in ’09’ manifesto continues (and it is holding up so far, a third of the way through the year).
But please, don’t kill off Abraham!
WARNING – SPOILERS!!!!
Sometimes, reading ‘The Walking Dead’ is a bitter-sweet experience. You can gallop through an issue – an issue you have been waiting roughly 4 to 6 weeks for – in around 10 minutes. With issue #58, I felt as if I had read 2 issues in 1. This time around Robert Kirkman has packed in so much drama, incident and plot developments that it does feel like a super-size edition. Believe me when I say there is no drop in quality either.
Essentially this is a comic book in 3 acts. The first part deals with the tense relationship between Abraham and Rick, and what seems to be a resolving of their differences in their often tense encounters. As they both discuss what they have had to do to survive, and what they have been prepared to do in order to protect their own interests for the sake of their loved ones, you see the two of them finally come together as equals. This could be a big turning point in the story for Abraham Ford – is Kirkman moving him centre stage as a good guy and Ricks ally?
Just when you think that this issue is going to be taken up with the exploration of Rick and Abraham’s characters, a second act begins as we cut to some of the group back at their temporary base. There are cracks beginning to show in the solidarity of the recently reunited group, with Dale wanting to break free with Andrea and some of the children. He is concerned with Rick, and what he perceives as a change in his character, a change for the worse that leaves Dale scared. Andrea, however, remains unconvinced. There is even time for a brief discussion on the Mullet hairstyle that involves Dr. Eugene Porter. At face value this looks like a brief and humorous interlude, but when it is Andrea asking the question, who along with Michonne are 2 of the most capable and strong characters in this series, then maybe that is a hint that Dr Porter is not all he seems. Maybe.
Finally, in the third act, we are finally reunited with Morgan Jones, who along with his young son Duane, were the first living people Rick encountered in The Walking Dead after the Zombie outbreak. Their meeting starts off badly and gets worse. I will say no more other than this ties in brilliantly with the exploration of what it is to be a man and a father in the wretched world that Rick, Abraham and Morgan inhabit. The ending is moving and surprising. No big cliffhanger this time – just pure Robert Kirkman class.
Kirkman is essentially asking a big question throughout this issue. That question is, as I understand it, ‘how far would you go to protect / avenge your own?’. This follows on from last issues encounter with the 3 bandits and Ricks response, and is expanded on in acts 1 and 3 of this issue. The writing is understated or believable, and you understand the conviction of each character.
Finally, let me just pay some attention to Charlie Adlards art which is superb as ever – particularly on the change of appearance in Morgan since the last time we saw him.
No matter how many times I say it, it doesn’t diminish the fact one bit – The Walking Dead IS the best comic book around, and Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn make an amazing creative team.