Rick and Sgt Ford lock horns as the struggle for control of the group breaks out into the open
Although this issue lacks the WOW factor of issue #55 (and does not have the startling cliffhanger conclusion of that issue), issue #56 is a slow burner. It took me a re-read of the issue to really get it. My first impressions were that it was a let-down after the high drama of the previous couple of episodes. Reading it again, I realised that this was a more subtle drama.
The main interest lies in the increasingly fractious relationship between Rick Grimes and Abraham Ford. Where previously Rick seemed content to let Sgt Ford take a firm grip on leadership of the survivors, he is now reasserting himself, and there appears to be an impasse developing. An impasse that looks likely to result in a bad outcome. We learn a little more about Ford towards the end of the book, and it is not in keeping with the previous 'action hero' persona. The new characters suddenly become a little more than saviours - more problematic and possibly posing more danger than previously thought. The battle for leadership of the group is beginning to break out into the open, with no reassurance that it will end peacefully.
A slow burner of an issue, but by the end of it the tensions and drama are beginning to boil. As they head on towards Washington DC, you get the sense that this group will have a hard time remaining united.
Verdict - moody, tense and bleak. After the amazing quality control of the last few issues you may feel that this issue is a slight downturn. Read it again. There are a lot of subtle power plays going on, broken hearts trying to find reassurance, new alliances being forged. Robert Kirkman just gets deeper and deeper into the fraught psychology of these survivors. Oh, and Adlard's art is, as always, superb. As this is the 5th Anniversary issue, it is also worth remembering that this is a title with astonishing quality control. Looking forward to when it reaches 10. I give this issue 8.5 out of 10.