Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Charles Adlard
Publisher: Image Comics
The Plot: The morning after last issue’s zombie attack Rick’s wife Lori suffers through morning sickness. His children are barely in the ground when Hershel discovers something shocking about his daughter Maggie. Tensions boil over after Herschel refuses to let Rick’s crew remain at his farm once Carl’s convalescence is complete. They resume their wanderings, running low on food and hope. Only then do Dale and Andrea discover a possible refuge – and a potential threat.
Comments: Few titles on the market could benefit more from a roll call page than The Walking Dead. The lack of the color and costumes makes it difficult to keep track of the numerous characters, especially considering the high mortality rate of this series. Despite this, Kirkman does an excellent job of keeping new readers in the loop through character dialogue that informs and moves the plot ahead simultaneously.
Kirkman also does a good job of laying down markers indicating short-term, medium-term and long-term crises whether it’s the hunt for food and shelter (short-term), the odd behavior of Tyrese’s daughter and her boyfriend (medium-term), or Lori’s pregnancy (long-term). This series lacks pacing, so a crisis explodes at a moment’s notice, unfortunately. I imagine this is meant to help the audience get a feel for the chaos of this new and frightening world. Instead, we end up disoriented with the new status quo introduced every other issue.
While things “happen” in this issue – Hershel kicks our heroes out, Glenn stays behind – it feels like nothing happens. Decisions and events that should seem momentous or important happen in one or two pages. The cast is so large it’s difficult to get any in-depth perspective on the characters. When Glenn leaves, it takes place over one page, and no one in the group seems to notice or care. Though the characters spend their days and nights fleeing zombies and fearing for their lives, they find plenty of time to talk about their feelings, slowing down whatever flow of action the writer might attempt to build up. Hopefully their new home will give the series some stability and a chance to adequately manage the cast.
It’s clear that Kirkman has no immediate intention of revealing just what exactly caused the dead to rise. While it might undercut some of the series’ credibility, giving the readers a slightly expanded picture of the state of the world would put the characters’ plight in sharper focus. Just how these people with no political or military influence discover the truth is difficult to imagine. They can’t exactly turn on the television or read the newspaper.
Adlard provides solid art despite the handicap of no color. He can draw men and women who look different beyond using the lazy tool of a beard or different ethnicity (for someone who can’t, see David Finch’s The Avengers). His work has progressed tremendously since his days on Topps Comics’ Mars Attacks!
The Final Word: The Walking Dead started out strong with an innovative concept and diverse cast of characters. Too many characters and poor pacing severely weaken the product. If you want to see the zombies attack, pick up the next issue. Despite a lot happening in this issue, you won’t miss much.
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