Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Walking Dead #57 Review (Image Comics 2009)

Kirkmans epic takes a detour into another pocket of hell as Rick faces the most appalling of situations

The longer you stick with this tremendous series, the more you expect the worst. You expect the worst to happen to the cast of characters. You expect the worst of human nature to manifest itself in many forms. Death is ever-present, but in this issue we see something that is possibly the most distressing and awful scenario I have seen in a comic. This is an issue is dominated by the sudden and shocking brutality that human can do to human and it isn't easy to experience this.

I read the book with almost an unwillingness to turn the page. I don't want Carl to die. I don't want Rick to lose his son. I want them all to reach safety somehow. I want the other children to get through, and I don't want to lose Michonne, Maggie, Glenn, Andrea or Abraham (who is becoming a fascinating juxtaposition of machismo and emotion). This issue throws a few more tantalising clues about Abraham Fords past. It promises to reveal more in future issues. There is a real prospect that we may see some characters we have not seen for a long time (and let us hope they are safe and well). All the while, the possibilities that lie ahead in Washington are just out of reach, making 'Doctor' Eugene the biggest enigma of all. He is still there, in the background, but a powerful influence on the course this group, and this story, is going.

What I am trying to say, again, but in a different way to before, is that I love this book, it is the best comic book of this year already, and it just matures and gets better. I don't want to think about what is coming up with issue #58 (aka 'The Unthinkable'). I will read it, with a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach, my heart fluttering. I will be back to be enthralled by this most magnificent of comic books.

Verdict - This comic is peerless. It pushes the boundaries without resorting to peurile humour or scare tactics. There is a reason why terrible things happen in the context of this awful world that Rick, Carl, Abraham, Michonne and all the other survivors inhabit. This world that they have to exist in is broken and lawless. Bad things happen to good people. There are no rules. The further we go into this world, the more apparent and shocking that truth is. What astonishes is that Kirkman and Adlard still produce gripping, involving drama from such a desperately hopeless and devastated environment. There is still hope in these pages - you just have to look very hard for it at the moment. 9.25 out of 10.