Review: The Walking Dead #83

*Warning: This review may contain spoilers up to, but not including, issue #83*

For over seven years, Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore’s The Walking Dead has been the paragon of the zombie genre. The series is so popular that it has spawned a television show, a weekly reprint comic, and helped gain Kirkman a seat at the partners’ table at Image Comics. Unlike many comics and movies that cater in the undead, the zombies and gore take a backseat in The Walking Dead and allows the emotional conflicts that are prone to arise when one survives a worldwide (maybe?) apocalyptic event to be the focus. This bold move has allowed for some amazing character growth and dramatic tension that is rarely seen in comics.

I don’t think it could be better illustrated how far these characters have come than in the latest story arc. The few characters that have been in the comic since the beginning are merely echoes of their previous selves. Rick is more withdrawn than ever, Andrea is more sure of herself, and Glenn seems to be having a crisis of faith of sorts. To say that these people have survived might be misleading. There is very little left of these characters in the people that appear in issue #83 and it’s things like that which keep the series fresh.

Part four of No Way Out picks up with Rick making his allegiances perfectly clear and trying to sell other survivors on the hard choice of leaving yet another “safe” zone, leaving many behind to meet their fate. The walls are breached and a giant herd of roamers are overrunning the defenders of the Alexandria Safe-Zone. The song may be different, but the tune will be familiar to Walking Dead fans. It really seems that there will be no peace for the survivors and no place will ever be safe.

At one point while reading this issue I thought, “This is it. This is the last issue of Walking Dead.” While my doom-saying might have been slightly premature, the cliffhanger for this issue is a game changer. The choices that are made and the events that unfold will forever affect the Walking Dead universe and its characters, especially Rick and Carl. Like the raid on the prison or Carl saving Rick from Shane, this issue will be listed as a major turning point in the series. This issue shows the lengths that Rick will go to protect what’s important to him, no matter how tasteless and vile it may be to those on the outside looking in.

Much like Rick, Kirkman is never afraid to make the hard choices as a writer in order to push the story forward. Characters die regardless of how important they seem, characters make poor decisions, and bad things happen to good people. This is refreshing in an industry where death is never permanent, the good guy almost always wins, and deus ex machina is a character unto itself. It’s clear there is no happy ending for these characters and they seem to have embraced it at this point.

Charlie Adlard provides some great artwork, as always. While some people may be turned off by the lack of color in the series, I still maintain that it is a key part of its success. Adlard has no problems drawing some of the grossest and goriest things I have ever seen, but the lack of color helps keep it honest and not seeming as though they’re going for shock value. His art is spot on and has a great ability to convey emotion even when words are sparse. On the flip side, the action always seems kinetic and the zombies are just moments from shambling across the page in front of your eyes.

In the end, issue #83 is a great illustration as to why the series is still in production. Kirkman and company never allow the series to sit too long and stagnate. If you would have asked me ten years ago if a zombie comic could not only run this long, but still be more than just a novelty, I would have scoffed. I’m not sure if this is the beginning of the end for The Walking Dead or just setting up for another chapter, but things will never be the same and I love it. If you’re a fan of the series, this will be a must read.

[xrr rating=4/5]

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