Following on from the end of issue 52, Glenn and Maggie quickly discover the events that lead to Rick abanding the prison. It is clear that no-one but Rick, Carl and Michonne survived. Glenn and Maggie lead them back to Herschels farm to meet the rest of the RV group who escaped before the Prison carnage. In combination with Adlards art. Kirkman manages to coney the joy of being reunited with friends believed dead, the grief at the realisation that many did not make it out alive, and the coping mechanisms of children in a brutal, brief world where happiness is in short supply. Carls discussion with his father on the subject of Sophia, who has forgotten her real mother in her trauma, again shows Kirkmans ability to make this Father-Son relationship a touching and beleivable one. The fact that he can do it with economy of words makes it clear the man is currently at the top of his game in his control of these characters.
This issue is one that takes its time to bring characters back together and show their relationships rebuild. There is grief, guilt and tears, interspersed with gratitude and a little happiness, and it is all displayed in a way that the issue does not feel rushed. The mystery of Michonnes ‘multiple personality’ is revealed, and draws parallels with Ricks own grief and coping. Rick also makes decisions on his future, that hints at the direction the book could be going. This all neatly ties into the final part of the issue, where the action steps up a gear, as we are introduced to some new characters, characters who are on a mission, are more than capable in the face of the undead and who have startling information that propels the ending of the issue to new heights. Kirkman loves his cliffhangers, and like any good serial, he usually delivers. This cliffhanger, however, opens up a whole new series of possibilities.
This issue is a closing of a chapter, one where Rick and Carl have come through the devastating events of the attack on the prison, and now assembles a new cast comprised of familiar and unfamiliar faces. The new characters are quickly established and should prove to be popular. It looks like we could be getting a real action hero to deal with the Zombie threat over the coming months.
Verdict – the pace goes from serene to foot flat on the pedal, and along the way we get a measured look at how the characters are coping, and then we get some welcome new arrivals. The ending is brilliant, and the promise of a lot more action and change in direction is tantalizing. Another master class in how to produce an immersive, captivating comicbook.