It's TV's The Walking Dead this week! Zombies and stuff.
The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse's News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate.
This week it's Walking Dead #84!
Having got out big cliffhanger last month, the conclusion for No Way Out brings us something we don't get a whole lot of in TWD: an issue that's more action than talking. Sure the ending has Kirkman setting up a new era within the safe haven the group managed to save (Much like the ending to issue #24) but most of the pages feature our heroes hacking apart a horde of zombies. All of the book's major characters get a look in and those who haven't had half their face shot off all get a moment to sever the head or destroy the brain. It's not at the expense of some characterisation, particularly for Abraham, Eugene and Gabriel (who is as much of a dick as ever), and is easily the strongest issue of the title I've read in a while. Perhaps it does tread familiar ground in terms of the plot beats but the way Kirkman manages to keep zombies fresh after eighty-four issues of running, hiding, and running is nothing short of astounding.
Charlie Adlard is a super nice guy and I have nothing bad to say about his art either. He has a huge cast to juggle and yet I manage to recognise every character every time. Throw in his gift for depicting huge piles of guts, swarms of zombies and montages of slaughter without ever sacrificing quality and you couldn't ask for a better artist on the book.
I love the Walking Dead. It's truly my consistently favorite book to come out.
With that said, I loved this issue. Things were happening and I missed the flat out action, as much as I love character development. I enjoyed how the living actually banded together, got over their fear, and destroyed the zombies. The art was fine and I'm anxious to read what's happening next.
What I didn't like is how Rick had to reconfirm that the dead weren't the biggest threat; the living were. I think that lesson would have been ingrained in his head since the living killed his wife and unborn child and several of his friends. I don't buy his being 'surprised' by that fact when talking to Carl.
Also, I realize that Carl living would be great for the book, but I couldn't care less personally if he dies. Maybe it's the nature of the book, where characters you've come to cherish are killed without warning, but I've grown apathetic towards Carl. Now if it were Michonne or Glen.. then I'd be bummed.
8/10- Not the greatest book of all time in the series, but definitely a very solid entry in the run.
For six years (I started reading the book in November of 2005 with the publication of the first Omnibus), The Walking Dead has been one of my favorite reads. In fact, for about two years afterward, I acted like Greg and gobbled up every horror comic I could. Some, like Crawl Space: XXXombies were great, others not so much.
It's been a hell of a fun ride too. The book, for me, works best in the monthly publication. I know that I tore through the Omnibus and the issues that I had stockpiled to that date in one sitting and loved it, but then I was introduced to the real power of the serial nature of what a comic is supposed to be. Kirkman has magically ended each issue with a cliff hanger ripe for speculation for sometime usually not shorter than four weeks (and sometimes quite longer). Other books that I loved have suffered from delays... I have yet to read the most recent issue of Bad Dogs, which was one of my favorites when it started two years ago. Walking Dead never lost my interest... I had to know what would happen in the next issue and when it wasn't a true "WHAT THE FUCK" moment like #83's shocking ending, it has had the kind of subtle cliffhanger of this issue. There is no dangling over a cliff with a cheesy be back next week same Zombie Channel, same Zombie Time.
Instead, there is the nagging that Rick is not right. He hasn't been for some time. What was an interesting ensemble piece about survival has expertly shifted to a story of a man spiraling into insanity and it is just as interesting, if not more so from its powerful connect.
No, Kirkman isn't the best dialogue writer in the business. No, he isn't the tightest architect of a plot. He doesn't wow with the faux science of a Fraction or a Hickman. What he is good at is a damn good yarn that makes you forget its own faults, makes you forget your own worries and transports you to a human drama implausible, but real all at the same time.
This issue does all of that as we watch the survivors do the impossible in town and see the fractures open wide in Rick's mental status.
Adlard is one of the best artists working today. Like Sale with Loeb, he takes the average stories Kirkman provides for him and transcends them into a better story, a great story, for that he is perfect.
I read this, it reminds of all the things I stopped liking about the Walking Dead, The art makes you wonder who the hell anyone is. There are also just too many damn characters to keep track of and really I just stopped caring too.
I figured the only way out of No Way Out was by all out assault, and that's what I got.
Great action during the melee but it just seemed to be over too fast. This was supposed to be a herd but they plowed through them as easily as they did the 'not a herd' at the Prison way back when.
And that's really all that happened in the issue. Sure we got Rick sermonizing to Carl at the end but even that felt like a speech I've heard numerous times from him before.
All in all, there isn't anything new this ish.
Art wise, Smashley's right when he said you can't really tell the characters apart because of the art. While I like the large cast, it makes me think that the whole point of the Walking Dead Who's Who is for Adlard to have a handy reference for future books.
After last month's book, this one was a bit of a let down.
Story - 6
Art - 5
Total - 5.5
Interesting issue. I thought the relatively small group had too easy a time in the thick of the zombie herd, and can't help but think there are a lot of smarter ways to safely pick off a herd of zombies one-by-one than that. Nonetheless the fight scene was deftly handled. The issue redeems itself for me during the speech at Carl's bedside. (Seriously, that stopped bleeding?!) The reason is that Kirkman has written a pivotal scene that can legitimately be read two entirely different ways and reviews of the issue have reflected this, taking one view or the other. Either Rick has had some sort of epiphany, or he is batshit crazy. Some people read the issue as Rick is now full of optimism and hope for the future minus the crazy. Other people read the same scene and know Rick has now crossed the street into Downtown Crazytown, no doubt about it. Without hearing the scene and the tell-tale clues the human voice gives away, it's impossible to say for sure.
For the record, I read it as a sign of Rick's further deterioration--but then the ease with which the survivors handled that herd of roamers gave me a tiny doubt when I first read a review that interpreted it the opposite way.
In strict defiance of the what Squid and Fourthy said to me, I decided to pick up the issue and review it. It was pretty interesting. The whole thing with Rick at the end at Carl's bedside was a pretty great scene. The big time zombie fight that took up the bulk of the issue was fun, but the "we have to help them....we can't just leave them out there to die...I'm not letting you go out there alone!" stuff dragged a bit, and there was a bit too much of the ol' "each panel is an iso on each character in action" thing. Still, I enjoyed it enough. I'm probably going to go ahead and jump into this series one of these days, and having the previous eighty-whatever issues spoiled for me here didn't really deter me from that.
So in the end, this got 7.3 out of a possible 10. Not bad. To see the whole thread, click this. Next week we've got Avengers Academy #13.
Written or Contributed by: Niam Suggitt