By: Robert Kirkman (writer), Charlie Adlard (art), Cliff Rathburn (gray tones) & Russ Wooton (letters)
The Story: Is Rick Grimes… Our hero… Suitable for decent company anymore? Or has he been so screwed up by his experiences leading a group of survivors through a zombie-infested countryside that he’ll never be the man he once was?
[SPOILER ALERT – I’M JUST GOING FOR IT WITH THIS REVIEW, SO IF YOU DON’T WANT IT SPOILED, STOP NOW!!!]
What’s Good: Let’s start with the fact that we’ve had 75 issues of zombie-infused survivor-horror thanks to Kirkman, Adlard & Rathburn. Most superhero comics from DC/Marvel don’t last that long and this creative team really hasn’t put out a crappy issue nor are they running out of story. We still don’t know what caused the zombie plague, whether it is localized to the United States or whether zombies can even do things like swim (I’d love to see them hop a sailboat now that they’re in DC). Bravo! Bravo!
The big spoiler in this issue is that Rick is now the bad guy. When we left off in issue #74 we saw the cowardly priest telling Douglas (the leader of the community where the survivors have found safety) how many bad things Rick and gang had done. I figured that this knowledge would cause tension between Douglas and Rick, but I was dead-ass wrong. It turns out Douglas knows darn well what Rick has had to do and applauds him for it.
But, as the issue unfolds, it is clear that Rick is so mentally and emotionally damaged by his time in the wild that he just can’t do this polite society thing anymore when he flips out on a guy who is abusive towards his wife and kid.
Two things really impress me about this turn of events. One is what a complete and three-dimensional character Rick is. Even though he has flipped his lid, it is hard to be that angry towards him. Even though all of the survivors at this point have had some lousy things happen to them, it would be hard to beat Rick’s list (adulterous wife, hand chopped off, child who has murdered two people, dead wife who was carrying the other guy’s baby, etc.). Add to that the tremendous burden of leadership that Rick has put on himself and the number of people that he feels responsible for who have died terrible deaths (Tyrese?). Is it hard to be too surprised that this happened?
The other cool thing about this is it opens up a HUGE new range of possible stories for Kirkman. What will the other survivors do with Rick? Will they want him back when the zombie-shit hits the fan? Will he be willing to help them if they hang him out to dry? I cannot wait to find out and seeing how well plotted Kirkman has this story makes me very excited and confident going into the next 75 issues.
Huge bonus points for the back-up story. As a first for TWD, it is in color and it picks up exactly where issue #75 ends and shows one possible thing that could happen. Just a hint….it involves something Kirkman promised would happen in issue #75 long, long ago. I love getting to see this series have a tongue-in-cheek moment.
What’s Not So Good: Nothing really. You could complain that the issue stops when it does with a classic TWD cliffhanger, but that’s just the nature of the series. I was also a little bummed that we didn’t see Abraham in this issue. For some reason, I kind of have a feeling that he (of all people) might be the one of the survivors who will be willing to defend Rick in his current situation.
Conclusion: Great issue! These plots have been simmering for awhile and Kirkman and Company know how to make it all pay it off.
– Dean Stell