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…..