There has been a paucity of really great issues of this series over the past 3 years, but in terms of what this issue did, I think it ranks with the last truly great episode (which was out a year ago) in issue 83 (and you can click here for a synopsis of what happened in that issue) ;
The Walking Dead tends to stick to a cyclic plot progression. Rick & co. meet new people, new people have own community, Rick & co. unsure / wary of new community, eventually all hell breaks loose, and their may be some zombies thrown into the mix (just to remind you that though the living are the real threat, this is generally marketed as a ‘Zombie’ comic). Rick & co. regroup, and the whole cycle starts again.
Issue #95 (or ‘part 3 of A Larger World’ if you prefer) is no exception to this tried and tested formula. Rick & co. have been taken to the gates of a walled community (aka ‘Hilltop Colony’), to be introduced and welcomed into it. Several issues have led up to this particular moment, as we have seen Rick struggle with his natural instinct of distrust and finally come to an understanding with ‘Jesus’ (aka Paul Monroe), the advanced scout / lead recruiter for this new community. We are given a snapshot of life within the walls of ‘Hilltop’ thanks to Adlard’s great pencils, showing bored sentry guards, rows of trailers, a fantastic Stately building and scores of people going about their business.
So far, so the-usual-Walking-Dead of late. Slow paced, but with a little less exposition and a lot less word balloons fit to burst with Kirkman’s dialogue. But then something great and unexpected happens. Without wanting to give too much away, we are introduced to a leader / elder called Gregory, and in quick succession, another resident, Ethan, comes back from a mission that has gone wrong. There are other names, of victims, captives and potential aggressors. Then all hell breaks loose, and Rick is right in the middle of it, as usual. It really reminded me of this, for some reason;
That’s a good thing by the way.
These final pages left me really impressed, especially the final shot of Rick and his apparent nonchalance to the events that had just occurred.
For the first time in ages, I really do not know where this series is going next. Again, that’s a good thing, as the unpredictability of issue 95 left me with the distinct impression that Kirkman is planning something superb for his centenary celebrations on The Walking Dead. I really hope he can deliver on the promise of this current instalment.