Category Archives: fear the hunters

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.

Review – The Walking Dead #64 (Image, 2009)

Warning – Spoilers!!!

If you haven’t read the 5 page preview, then you will not know that Dale, held by the Hunters, reveals a big secret to them.

He has been bitten by one of the undead, and was walking out to die when he was caught.

The way this is handled, with Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn showing Dales grief / madness / bitter laughter developing over several quick fire panels is really cinematic. And it really works well. Back at the Church, where Rick and the other survivors are holed up, try to come to terms with the loss of Dale. Andrea, in particular, delivers a very moving piece on her relationship with him.

As is Kirkmans way, a Walking Dead issue can be packed with dialogue and the dynamics of a group of survivors trying to get along as well as get by. This issue, though not packed with action, delivers plenty of human drama, little scenes of heartbreaking humanity – like Glenn and Maggie tucking Sophia into bed, Carl crying in the chapel (there is no need for words to elaborate on why he is crying – Kirkman lets you make up your mind). Pretty much all the group get some time in this issue. We also get a glimpse into the lives of the Hunters (and they seem startlingly normal).

The action, when it does happen, is sudden and happens towards the end of the issue. Rick has a handle on the situation, and there is a great final panel, full of pumped-up dramatics and the most ‘comic book’ splash page I have seen from Charlie Adlard (when you see it, you will understand what I mean). It looks great, and really sets up part 4 of ‘Fear The Hunters’ as the issue when it all really kicks off.

As usual, an absorbing read, well worth the money and time. The only criticism was that I wanted more (though with the pairing of Viking #1 on the back of this issue, like they did with Chew #1 last issue, those of us who buy the monthlies are getting a treat of a double feature).

Solicitation for The Walking Dead #66 (Image, 2009)

THE WALKING DEAD #66
story ROBERT KIRKMAN
art & cover CHARLIE ADLARD & CLIFF RATHBURN

THE HUNT CONCLUDES! Nothing will ever be the same.

RETAILER WARNING: MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR ALL AGES

OCTOBER 14 32 PAGES / BW $2.99

ooohhh….exciting stuff. As this is the last of the ‘Fear The Hunters’ arc, this promises to be explosive, and the pile of bodies (is that 2 or 3 bodies there?) at the bottom of the cover only confirm it. Interesting that the perspective of the Hunters is quite similar to that of Rick Grimes in the last bloody encounter in The Walking Dead – issue #48;

as if these covers are thematically linked by the contents within, signifying misfortune and death…not too long to find out anyway – 3 months and counting…

Review – The Walking Dead #63 (Image, 2009)

The hunt for Dale takes up pretty much all of this issue, but we also get to know the answer to a question that has been at the forefront of recent Walking Dead activity – but more of that later. The Walking Dead has some slower installments, that are neccesary as Kirkman likes to put all his pieces of plot into position before flicking his finger and the whole thing topples over like one of those Domino tracks. This issue is one of those, with ruminations on God and Christianity, the survival of the group against the need to find the missing Dale, further clues on Zombie lifespan and Rick and Abraham leading from the front.

But more than that, you finally get to see the Hunters, and without wanting to give away too much, you finally find out what their motivation is. It is pretty grim, but also logical. There is one panel that have this group (the Hunters) sitting around a garden bench in a backyard at night, the reflection of an open fire of some sort reflected in patio doors. In that one panel, the mundane collides with the horror of the situation that people are in. You find out later why the panel is so horrible, and the flames are a clue….I am saying too much here. The art in that scene is brilliant – gloomy, seemingly innocuos but with an undercurrent of menace. Adlard delivers so much good work, but sometimes he nails it to perfection, and in that panel he really gets it good. Just read it.

Back to the ‘burning question resolved’ I mentioned earlier. There is some focus on ‘Father’ Gabriel Stokes, and the question of whether or not he is in league with the Hunters. Well, maybe it gets answered in issue 63…but maybe not. Who can tell what twists and turns Kirkman has in store? Stokes certainly tells a good story, and maybe he is a good actor?

The Hunters are still fairly shadowy, and the terror they induce with their anonymity is palpable. You do get to meet Chris, though, and he exudes a perverse banality, complete with good manners, that leaves you needing to back off from the page in revulsion.

The final panel is pure Kirkman and Adlard genius. I will say no more, other than this – with 3 more to go on this arc, I get the feeling that next time around we will start to see some people heading for the chopping board. Figuratively speaking, of course…..

The Walking Dead #65 solicitation (Image, 2009)

Warning – potential spoliers

THE WALKING DEAD #65
story ROBERT KIRKMAN
art & cover CHARLIE ADLARD & CLIFF RATHBURN
SEPTEMBER 16
32 PAGES / BW
$2.99

THE HUNT CONTINUES!
His time is up.

WARNING: MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR ALL AGES

Warning – spoilers (discussion of current events in Walking Dead up to issue #62)

Well………this puts a bit more meat around the bones of what happened at the end of issue 62….so the Hunters are going to keep Dale alive for a while yet. Though he may rather be dead after a few hours with those sadists. Grim. Bad news for Dale, probably good news for the reader, as this looks really tasty. His time is up? Looks like it, doesn’t it? Wonder who the Hunters are going to get in the meantime?

Review – The Walking Dead #62 (Image, 2009)

Warning Spoilers

First of all, although this is the first in the 5 part ‘fear the hunters’ arc – the first true arc since the ‘no-one is safe’ prison siege concluded nearly 18 months ago – this is more of a prologue, as the hunters are not revealed until towards the end. Rather, issue 62 is a continuing exploration of the tensions that are ripping apart the very fabric of the current survivors – and we get a lot more besides. Dale becomes ever more disillusioned – he really appears to be at his wits end, following the tragedy that has befallen him recently. Heartbroken, unfocused, scared and distancing himself from the main group, his situation becomes dire by the end of this issue.

Carl, meanwhile, is developing a character that is embittered, yet focused and ultimately pragmatic. Schooled in survival under the most extreme of circumstances, his personality has recently undergone a massive shift in tone. His rapid rise to prominence within the group, his importance to the title, is now unquestioned. He may not be always likeable, as evidenced here, but that does not make him any less fascinating. His development is a testament to the work that writer (Kirkman) and artist (Adlard) can produce. There is a scene where Carl is alone, in the dark, where Kirkman gives the artist a few panels where there is no dialogue, but magnificently, heartbreakingly show the tensions within this troubled young boy. This is a real highlight of the issue.

Michonne finally comes back into focus, having been on the periphery for several issues. She gets one very funny scene that briefly lightens the tone, and then an altogether more awkward one later on, where she confesses to Rick about her feelings. This piece surprised me, as I thought there was room there for a relationship to strike up between her and Rick. I won’t spoil it for you and tell you who the object of her desires is, but there is a tantalizing end to the scene when Rick seems like he is about to reveal something about the person, along the lines of ‘there is something you should know about (that person)’. But this is cut short, and we never get to find out. No doubt we will find out, but when? Intriguing.

More intriguing, and disturbing, is the discovery that Eugene is a voyeur. This opens up a lot of possibilities about his character. If he is a deviant, what else is he capable of? The fact that Abraham and Rosita are aware of his actions (it is them that he is watching), is also worrying. Are they that convinced of his story, and the purpose of getting him to DC that they are blind to his true nature? Then again, ‘needs must’, and in this changed world, what if voyeurism is all you have, a link to intimacy that is now gone with the millions who perished in the apocalypse? In that case, is Eugene to be pitied?

Father Stokes is still around, giving nothing away. I still cannot decide if he is in league with them hunters or not. Maybe he is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Perhaps. We learn he has a dark sense of humour, but not a lot else transpires. He is probably in the firing line to take the blame when the really bad stuff kicks off with the Hunters.

Finally, we get the highly anticipated appearance of the hunters. Well, we only get to see them briefly, and in shadow, but it’s pretty effective, especially when they discuss with each other what they achieve in this issue. Interestingly, early on in the story we get a zombie attack. They seemed to come out of nowhere – were they used by the hunters as means of unsettling the survivors. Is this part of their ‘game’? Things are about to get serious indeed.

This episode is a great scene setter – the cliffhanger is there to plunge us straight into the drama next time. So much going on, so many reveals about characters, and the hunter’s presence gives this brilliant title a deadlier shade then we have probably ever witnessed.