Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Walking Dead #97

Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn

The newest arc in comics success story The Walking Dead begins with an issue that spotlights many of this series's strengths.  The book opens in the Community, where people are holding a Sunday church service.  There are prayers for the safe return of Rick and his group, who we later see coming home after their time at the Hilltop over the last few issues.

They are soon approached by some of Negan's men.  Negan is the leader of a group that calls itself the Saviors, and who we learned last month are more or less holding the Hilltop community hostage, extorting them for food and trade goods.  Of course, people who cross Rick don't last long, and the seeds of the next big conflict are sown.

Once Rick's group returns home, the book gets back to what it does best - having people go about the business of surviving.  Plans are made to prepare for conflict with Negan, and we learn that one of the cast members is pregnant.  Also, Rick and Andrea inch ever closer to one another, and Abraham starts to chafe under the perception that he is now subordinate to Rick.

What always makes this book work so well is the balance between plot and character, and the way in which Kirkman doesn't let things slow down for long.  Of most possible importance here is the observation that some of the walkers are looking more decayed, and that Carl's memory is returning to him.  This is great stuff as always, and as we approach the 100th issue, I find myself beginning to feel a little dread, as we all know that Kirkman likes to kill off main characters in landmark issues.

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