By Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, Cliff Rathburn, Rus Wooton, and Dave Stewart.
The Walking Dead never lets up; it never lets the readers have any sense of calm or assurance toward Rick and his people. Creators Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard really have kept the stakes high and emotions raw over the entire run of this series. This week is Image’s 25th anniversary, and in honor of this great achievement The Walking Dead was just 25 cents, a great deal for a terrific story. Bringing a book at that price point, that is worth the cover price is a terrific thing for a comic publisher to do. Nice intimate fan connections like this from Image help to establish them alongside the big 2 as the top names in comic publishing.
The book is a great introduction for new readers to this brutal series, and it is also a great issue for the devoted subscribers as a follow-up to the brutal Whisperer War arc. Spoilers warning for show watchers and non-comic readers of The Walking Dead because things take a turn and no one is safe. Dwight returns to Alexandria claiming victory over the Whisperers, and Rick soon realizes the fight is far from over. Can he rally the troops and form a plan in time to ensure survival for Alexandria? The issue it titled “Conquered” so, yeah.
Kirkman and Adlard deliver another glorious issue of gore, fear, and survival to the art accentuated with the usual dull grey tones and dark lines we have come to associate with this book. This book has inks from Gaudiano, gray tones from Rathburn, and letters from Wooton. Kirkman does what Kirkman does; deliver monthly doses of trauma through a story that makes you care for these characters like they are family. Sure, he has had 163 issues to do that, but it is a unique connection The Walking Dead fans have with the series, comic and show. This issue is not without death, and that just comes with the territory of being a fan.
The pace of the story is met with the dramatic build up of the art, the frantic feeling builds to an intense pitch that delivers with a great double splash page that fully captures the gravity of the situation Rick and Alexandria face. Kirkman paints the dynamic between a newly released and possibly trustworthy Negan and Rick on such an understated way. He shows the devotion of the people to Rick, from Eugene to his lover Andrea, and even Negan. To see this complete trust and then have it all fall apart it heartbreaking on so many levels, Kirkman knows how to pull on the heartstrings and then rip them out.
Kirkman and Adlard could give a master class in comic writing and art and story cooperation. The consistency and emotive delivery of the story every month is unmatched in our current comic era. Getting this book should be a no-brainer, a must for all comic fans. This book also serves as a good introductory point for new readers, you get hooked the second you see the second double splash page of the book. Spend the quarter, buy this book, read good comics, and you will not regret it.