by Robert Kirkman (writer), Charlie Adlard (pencils and inks), Cliff Rathburn (gray tones), and Rus Wooton (letters)
The Story: Our group goes looking for Dale before finally finding Father Gabriel’s church. We also finally meet the much-hyped “Hunters.”
What’s Good: This arc looks to be a great one as for the second month in a row, we get an absolutely stellar issue. I really enjoyed the fleeting glimpse that Andrea got of the Hunter and the panicked paranoia it inspired. While it’s not as unsettling as the midnight sighting last month, the Hunters are working really well as a horror device. As the series has worn on, the actual zombies have become less frightening so it’s refreshing to have a new presence in the book that actually puts fear in me. With the Hunters, the horror has returned to the Walking Dead.
Speaking of which, Kirkman once again delivers another crushing, shocking ending. The man truly has no mercy for his characters. I highly advise a reader to NOT– by any means, look at the final page before reading the rest of the book. You really don’t want to spoil the shock here, which is delivered with pitch-perfect, expert pacing.
The final scene also does well in distinguishing these hunters from the Governor’s forces. This is clearly a new kind of threat, simpler perhaps, but also more brutal.
The Hunter leader Chris is creepy as hell, but also fascinating. Considering the ending, I look forward to hearing their logic expanded upon. It’s a really promising start to a new host of enemies and a new aspect of survivor psychology.
One has only to look at this issue’s ending to see that Kirkman loves his shocks and thrills. For this reason, I loved that Gabriel’s story was actually fairly mundane and subtle; horrific yes, but because it wasn’t at all shocking or surprising shows just how much us readers have come to accept the desolate world Kirkman has crafted. Gabriel’s story is dark, but its poignancy comes from how depressing it is without being surprising, that something so horrible is now so run-of-the-mill.
Adlard delivers the art that Walking Dead readers have come to know and love. That said, I particularly enjoyed his drawing of Gabriel’s church, which evoked a “classic horror,” Night of the Living Dead feel. The eery, night-time chapel almost felt like an homage that worked really well in black and white. I also loved the final two pages depicting the Hunter’s encampment; from the glowing firelight, to the shadowed faces, to the calmly insane features of their leader, Adlard succeeds in furthering the deeply unsettling nature of this new threat.
What’s Not So Good: Nothing of note. That said, readers should note that Carl is entirely absent, so don’t expect any more developments regarding his recent actions. This issue is more or less entirely centred on the hunt for Dale.
Conclusion: The Walking Dead #63 contains all things that a good horror comic should have. Pick it up! It’s good to see TWD returning to its visceral, generic roots.