Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Charles Adlard
Publisher: Image Comics
The Plot: Tyreeseís daughter Julie becomes a zombie as a result of her wounds Ė and without being bitten. She dies a second time as Tyreese takes his anger out on her boyfriend Chris, the one who shot her. As the rest of the group struggles to best deal with Tyreese, Rick tests his theory about the zombies by revisiting a particularly traumatic episode during their wanderings. The body counts rises in multiple ways Ė both shocking and obvious.
Comments: Loaded down with multiple $3 regular issues this week at my local comic shop in northern Virginia, I deliberated about adding to my bill by choosing The Walking Dead. Iím glad I did because this issue is crammed full of death, misery, revelations, mystery and horror. The charactersí wandering of the past few issues contributed to the rather aimless direction of the series. Suddenly, Kirkman begins to answer a key question thatís hung over the entire series Ė just how in hell did the dead come back? The whole truth remains hidden, but thatís the fun of a mystery.
Tyreeseís actions are not entirely surprising. One of the reoccurring motifs of this title is how characters deal with grief after loved ones are killed by the zombies. Some shut down emotionally, some struggle on for the sake of the children. Tyreese goes in a decidedly different direction. While I see a spot for a little wiggle room about his fate, more than likely his end is an unpleasant one.
The zombie revelation makes sense, if considered logically. Since there were no zombies to begin with, how could they rise if nobody was around to convert them in the first place? (Iím trying to be circumspect about this after a reader yelled at me for revealing the surprising ending to the latest Captain America #1). If Kirkman ever reveals the cause of the apocalypse, my bet is on some sort of military experiment. The series might be better served if itís seen as an unexplained act of God. Itís better the characters are just trying to survive rather than action/adventure heroes fighting the bad guys in search of a cure.
Adlard produces his best issue of the series yet. A series revolving around flesh-eating zombies requires an artist that can make the dark corners menacing and the bloodshed adequately gruesome. Adlard does that in spades, especially the shocking last page. The charactersí facial expressions are very expressive portraying the necessary fear, horror, anger and desire.
The series still suffers from a multitude of characters, although the carnage this issue dropped the numbers by at least four. Because so many characters are crammed into so many pages, itís impossible to plunge any deeper into charactersí emotions and inner workings, so all we get are the charactersí surface feelings relayed through expeditionary dialogue. The Walking Dead is a soap opera, but the best kind. Itís a soap opera with flesh-eating zombies. Beat that, Susan Lucci.
The Final Word: Something made me restrain from passing on the title this week and dropping The Walking Dead from my reading roster. Iím glad I gave it one more issue. The best series have readers asking questions. This title has rekindled that urge. Add a bucket of blood, yet another surprise ending and intriguing subplots that simmer just below the main questions. The result is one of comicsí better titles just waiting for Hollywood to come knocking with a picture deal.
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