First of all, although this is the first in the 5 part ‘fear the hunters’ arc – the first true arc since the ‘no-one is safe’ prison siege concluded nearly 18 months ago – this is more of a prologue, as the hunters are not revealed until towards the end. Rather, issue 62 is a continuing exploration of the tensions that are ripping apart the very fabric of the current survivors – and we get a lot more besides. Dale becomes ever more disillusioned – he really appears to be at his wits end, following the tragedy that has befallen him recently. Heartbroken, unfocused, scared and distancing himself from the main group, his situation becomes dire by the end of this issue.
Carl, meanwhile, is developing a character that is embittered, yet focused and ultimately pragmatic. Schooled in survival under the most extreme of circumstances, his personality has recently undergone a massive shift in tone. His rapid rise to prominence within the group, his importance to the title, is now unquestioned. He may not be always likeable, as evidenced here, but that does not make him any less fascinating. His development is a testament to the work that writer (Kirkman) and artist (Adlard) can produce. There is a scene where Carl is alone, in the dark, where Kirkman gives the artist a few panels where there is no dialogue, but magnificently, heartbreakingly show the tensions within this troubled young boy. This is a real highlight of the issue.
Michonne finally comes back into focus, having been on the periphery for several issues. She gets one very funny scene that briefly lightens the tone, and then an altogether more awkward one later on, where she confesses to Rick about her feelings. This piece surprised me, as I thought there was room there for a relationship to strike up between her and Rick. I won’t spoil it for you and tell you who the object of her desires is, but there is a tantalizing end to the scene when Rick seems like he is about to reveal something about the person, along the lines of ‘there is something you should know about (that person)’. But this is cut short, and we never get to find out. No doubt we will find out, but when? Intriguing.
More intriguing, and disturbing, is the discovery that Eugene is a voyeur. This opens up a lot of possibilities about his character. If he is a deviant, what else is he capable of? The fact that Abraham and Rosita are aware of his actions (it is them that he is watching), is also worrying. Are they that convinced of his story, and the purpose of getting him to DC that they are blind to his true nature? Then again, ‘needs must’, and in this changed world, what if voyeurism is all you have, a link to intimacy that is now gone with the millions who perished in the apocalypse? In that case, is Eugene to be pitied?
Father Stokes is still around, giving nothing away. I still cannot decide if he is in league with them hunters or not. Maybe he is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Perhaps. We learn he has a dark sense of humour, but not a lot else transpires. He is probably in the firing line to take the blame when the really bad stuff kicks off with the Hunters.
Finally, we get the highly anticipated appearance of the hunters. Well, we only get to see them briefly, and in shadow, but it’s pretty effective, especially when they discuss with each other what they achieve in this issue. Interestingly, early on in the story we get a zombie attack. They seemed to come out of nowhere – were they used by the hunters as means of unsettling the survivors. Is this part of their ‘game’? Things are about to get serious indeed.
This episode is a great scene setter – the cliffhanger is there to plunge us straight into the drama next time. So much going on, so many reveals about characters, and the hunter’s presence gives this brilliant title a deadlier shade then we have probably ever witnessed.
Verdict - As good as ever, setting up the 'fear the hunters' arc, though a slight moan - was it really the first part of the arc? 9 out of 10.