By Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, Cliff Rathburn, Dave Stewart, Rus Wooton
This is the moment many The Walking Dead fans have been waiting for: this series is taking a big turn with some new recent developments. With this being not only issue #175, another milestone moment for any comic series, it is also the beginning of a new arc titled “New World Order”. Michonne, Euegene and their gang finally meet up with Stephanie’s people, and things go well, maybe unexpectedly so. It must be hard for the majority to imagine another community getting on during the zombie apocalypse as well as if not better then Rick and the gang, and this new group has the potential to make our heroes look like amateurs. The events in this single issue will change the direction and tone of the entire series, not only are they integrating with another established community, but there is a shocking last page reveal that will also take a certain character down a new unexpected journey.
You have to give it to Kirkman and his creative team with the ability to still find a way to impress and engage after 175 issues. This is no small feat, and yet there is a nagging feeling that maybe this encounter should have happened earlier in the series. Like, maybe this encounter with a highly organized and centralized community with over 50,000 people would have happened many issues ago. Yet, we were watching Rick and gang take down tiny dictator after tiny dictator while trying to establish a whole infrastructure between communities on his lonesome. Either way, here we are at issue #175 and maybe the big shock of this issue isn’t the knowledge of the highly developed and civilized community, but the final reveal that would not be right to spoil here in this review. That alone is the type of emotional push and pull that we have come to expect and love from The Walking Dead. Kirkman gives a character a chance for redemption, to bring their story full circle, so anticipation for something awful to happen is certainly on the horizon. Honestly, when have we seen a character get developed without an imminent death?
The art from The Walking Dead is nothing if not consistent, with pencils from Adlard, inks from Gaudiano, gray tone from Rathburn, and letters from Wooton. There is a winning formula these artists have found and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. There is a constant eeriness and constant threat of danger that emanates from the pages with the black and white colors. It reflects the genre it pays respect to, the classic George Romero zombie movies. The character design, especially of newly introduced jerk/geek Lance Hornsby, is so perfect. The facial expression, clothing and panel layouts all help to really create a complete composite of a character, even if this is just an introduction.
Cover art from Adlard is also a perfect example of the dichotomy of the art work on the cover really setting the tone for the issue. This cover is in full color, it is a page of the guards from the new community of friends we are introduced to in this issue. Seeing them up close and in full colors on the front cover at first brings to mind storm troopers, maybe we all just have Star Wars on the mind or maybe it was an intentional move by Adlard to play on that inevitable connection.
Any Walking Dead fanatic will surely have this series on their pull list for all of eternity, but there are certain members of the fandom who may put off reading the comics until after the series ends, or just do not want to give it to the hype. Either way, this series is solid, and this issue is great and takes a potentially lagging storyline into a new exciting direction with renewing interests with new characters, a new community and an unknown fate for a certain character. This issue is not an awful place to start reading, it’s the start of a new arc, and you can always pick up the compendiums or trades to catch up in the meantime. The Walking Dead #175 goes full speed ahead into a new future for our heroes, after this arc is complete nothing will be the same for our beloved Rick and gang ever again.