Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: N/A
Written and Lettered by: Robert Kirkman
Art by: Tony Moore
Gray Tones by: Cliff Rathburn
Colored by: N/A
Publisher: Image Comics
I know that I have beaten it to death, but Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead is utterly brilliant! Kirkman has fashioned a cast of individuals that seem like flesh and blood. These characters are the central focus of this comic month-after-month, and the reason to come back and keep reading. It didn’t quite dawn on me until after I finished reading issue #6, but there is not a single zombie within these pages this month. Yet, as strange as it may seem, this was my favorite issue of the book so far!
The series has centered on a small group of survivors, living in a camp outside of Atlanta, following an apocalypse that has seen the dead return to life and overrun the world. That may seem like the setup for a simple concept driven story about unending hordes of zombies and little to no character development. Of course, that’s not the case! These characters and the drama that unfolds due to their predicament is the heart of this book. That’s why it doesn’t matter if there are zombies, the zombies aren’t there to drive the plot, they’re always nearby, but they’re a small ingredient in the grand tapestry. It may sound cheesy, but this book’s all about the mental condition and how people deal with stress.
Rick Grimes, the series lead, has professed that the band should move away from the infested big city, but his former police partner, Shane, has been firmly on the side of staying close to Atlanta, to be ready for the help he feels will soon be coming. The pair, who was once fast friends, has had their relationship ripped apart because of this conflict, as well as the awkward love triangle of sorts with Rick’s wife Lori. This isn’t the only drama unfolding, but it’s the chief conflict we’re dealing with this issue.
Last issue saw the camp finally get attacked with a strong wave of zombies, basically proving Rick’s theories. In the wild melee a member of the group was killed and another was bitten. This month, Kirkman begins the story with the funeral, then moves on, illustrating the consequences of the poisonous bite. The sequence where Jim (who was bitten last issue) makes a decision about his future is perfect, and veers away from the usual conventions that are seen in zombie stories. The tour de force this month is when the tension between Rick and Shane reaches a point of no return. Talk about no turning back! This is utterly gripping drama, that is unmatched by almost anything else on the shelves!
With this story, Kirkman successfully pulls the threads of the first six issues together into an extremely satisfying arc. The strong conclusion, though, is muted slightly, as this is co-creator Tony Moore’s last issue on the book. Tony’s work has brought this series to life and he’s going to be sorely missed. Whatever series he turns up on next will draw my immediate interest. Charlie Adlard is due to join on next month, and judging by the preview pages I’ve seen, he’s going to maintain the high standard that Tony Moore set during his tenure.
Zombies seem to be a hot trend in pop culture once more. Last year there was 28 Days Later, this year we saw a remake of Dawn of the Dead, and in comics Dead@17 is getting rave reviews, not to mention The Walking Dead, which recently garnered Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore an Eisner Nomination for â€œBest New Series.â€ That Eisner nod is a truly fitting achievement for a book that is gaining reader support every month. Proving that once you pick this series up, you won’t be able to put it down.