The Walking Dead is an incredible comic series. Although at times it can be completely outrageous, it’s fast paced from the start with several characters and storylines to grab the reader’s attention. I confess I began reading this series shortly after the debut of the television show and was worried the zombies and action portrayed in the show wouldn’t be as vivid in the comic. Surprisingly, the comic series surpassed my expectations. Illustrated by Charlie Adlard, he creates a gloomy and dreary world full of creepy walkers with a boundless appetite for flesh. Throughout the series, Adlard has shown intense action scenes and striking landscape views, amazingly in black and white. Even the scenes with zombie slaughtering are powerful, especially as the group opts for more melee style weapons over guns.
Debuting in 2003 and written by Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead follows the lives of a group of survivors, lead by sheriff Rick Grimes, in a world where society has crumbled and the dead have risen. Throughout the series, the group has been traveling around the United States to find a safe haven in order to rebuild society. The latest story arc, “A Larger World”, is similar to something the reader has seen before; the group encountering a nearby community that is seemingly safe but soon enough, a dark twist is revealed. Kirkman’s ability to keep the reader guessing keeps the comic feeling fresh. Just as the group is settling down, he’ll throw in a twist, often turning a beloved character into the newest zombie recruit.
“A Larger World” begins at issue #93. Rick and the group are faced with a shocking revelation. A mysterious man, introducing himself as Jesus, claims he has come from a much more prosperous community. He reveals to Rick that there are networks of communities that have been successfully trading for a long time. I enjoyed this issue because for once, the reader questions Rick’s motives and leadership. Rick completely distrusts Jesus but there is no blatant reason given throughout the whole issue. There is also a good mix of zombie carnage and character build up in this issue. It’s just the introduction for a new story arc, so the pacing is relatively slow.
Throughout issue #94, Rick continues to struggle with the idea of trusting Jesus. He is finally convinced by his son Carl to trust him and visit the larger community. Again, this issue was great to read simply for the character work. Jesus is a breath of fresh air. He’s kind, tough and patient and still seemingly trustworthy to the reader. He even pulls out these cool kung fu moves against the zombies, all with his hands tied up behind his back. In addition, the reader gets to see Carl’s maturity as a youth growing up in a zombie stricken world as he is the one able to convince his father to trust Jesus.
In the most recent issue, issue #95, Rick, Carl and other survivors finally reach this new community and are immediately taken on a tour. During their visit, a conflict occurs and Rick’s actions shock the new community. This leads the reader to question whether Rick has been too desensitized by the zombie filled world to live within civilization. This story arc is finally back on pace with the rest of the comic series and with the new community, there will be new characters introduced to keep the reader further invested. So far, I rate this story arc a 7.5/10.