Thursday, February 28, 2008

Review - The Walking Dead #46 (Image Comics)


Robert Kirkmans Zombie epic, The Walking Dead, is currently in the middle of an explosive story arc, known simply as 'No-one is safe'. It promises to deliver major changes to the story, and in this issue, the promise is fulfilled. Deaths of major characters in long running comicbooks are rare, and the promise of them staying dead is even rarer. The Walking Dead #46 not only kills a major character, but there is no ambiguity either.

Following on from an abortive attack on the Prison by the nearby community of Woodbury, led by 'The Governer', a flat-bed truck heads back towards the fences. The survivors in the compound fear the worst, expecting the vehicle to try and break through. What they actually get is more than they bargained for, as they see their friend Tyrese displayed to them. Rick Grimes, the major focus of the comicbook, and de-facto leader of what is left of the band of survivors who occupy the Prison, remains stoic and pragmatic as his friend is offered as a bargaining tool by the Governer - simply, its either leave the Prison with them and head back to Woodbury, or Tyrese dies. The offer is refused, as Grimes knows that there is no trusting the offer, and that Tyrese took his chances when he left the security of the Prison.

The death of Tyrese is brutal and final, decapitated by the increasingly murderous 'Governer' of the Woodbury community who covets the Prison where Rick and the other survivors are holed up. Not only is the death brutal, but Tyrese is not allowed an heroic end, as he is paraded in front of his shocked comrades, bloodied and beaten, and then slowly, terribly executed by a one-armed man, his corpse left near the prison. The last we see of Tyrese is his prone body being approached by zombies, his head a few feet away.

There is a real sense of despair around this issue. The survivors left in the prison are scared, desperate and seem to be acknowledging their death could be moments away. There are some excellent scenes between fathers & sons trying to make sense of what is happening to them, trying to hold on to hope.

The Governer, a really nasty villain, almost pantomime-like in his evil, continues to provide the shocks. He is a man drunk & insane on the power he has grapsed in the new world order. The cliffhanger (a device that Kirkman plays out every issue) is another great twist, if not all that surprising - did any really expect Michonne to die off-panel?? I doubt that this is the end of the Governer just yet, but this issue leaves me wanting more, as usual. Those who wait for the trades will find this arc compelling and shocking. Suitably, its going to be called 'Made To Suffer'. As we wait for issue 47, after the looong wait for 46, I know just how that feels....

Verdict - Brutal, shocking, violent and brilliant. 9/10.

Robert Kirkmans Site

Image Comics