By Robert Kirkman (Writer), Charlie Adlard (Pencils and Ink), and Cliff Rathburn (Gray Tones)

After the phone call mindbender last issue that seriously called into question Rick’s mental state, I was surprised to find the latest chapter of The Walking Dead to be both a welcome return to form and an indication that the story has truly come full circle.

While I had no problem with (and really enjoyed) the effective slow burn storytelling of recent months, I’d be lying if I said the good old-fashioned zombie killing is this one wasn’t a breath of fresh air. Well, this issue really brings the series back to its survival-horror roots. Rick and Carl search for supplies, encounter (and dispatch) some zombies, are found by a survivor/returning cast member (it’s apparent on the cover). After a brief reunion, the cast tries to get a grip on what has happened and what to do next. It’s a fairly simple plot (especially considering how far we are into the series), but it really taps into what makes The Walking Dead so enjoyable in the first place, proving that sometimes the most basic plot situation can be something special if handled by the right. And it’s been handled right more often than not.

At this point, how much more can really be said about the technical aspects of this book? Robert Kirkman once again shows that he is a master storyteller who knows how to bring depth and personality to what could easily be just another gore-filled zombie romp thanks to some excellent character moments (the driving scene that opens the book is brilliant). Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn make the most of a black and white color palette, producing one of the best looking books on the stands. They prove in spades that graphic violence isn’t necessarily dependent on the color red.

While I could potentially knock this one for heading back into some extremely familiar territory, it works so well and is handled so skillfully that I can’t possibly allow myself to do that. Why you ask? Because, in my opinion, this is The Walking Dead at its best. (Grade: A)

– Kyle Posluszny