By: Robert Kirkman (writer), Charlie Adlard (art), Cliff Rathburn (grays), Rus Wooton (letters)

The Story: After beginning to crack up last issue, what will become of Rick Grimes.

Grade: B+

[SPOILER WARNING]

What’s Good: Whenever I review a comic that I am scoring highly, there is this huge temptation to talk about what happened.  This issue is outstanding in some ways for what doesn’t happen.  Let me explain…

In TWD #75, we saw that Rick basically cracked up and pulled a gun on the leader of this pocket of civilization he and the other survivors are living in.  The situation was only resolved when Michonne cracks him on the back of the head with a rock.  Now, I fully expected this issue to consist of Rick getting declared unfit for decent company and tossed over the fence.  That is probably what Rick would have done (remember what he did to the cannibals?) and that would be a cool story, but that isn’t what happens and that lack of punishment is what jumps out of this issue.

However, there are two things that happen in this issue that are very subtle.  One is why Douglas chooses to pardon Rick instead of throwing him to the zombies.  It comes down to specific events of the fracas that Rick caused in the last issue.  Basically, Douglas respects that Rick wasn’t attempting to abuse his power.  He was making a tough call to call out a wife-beater with no thought of personal gain for himself.  Further, Douglas respects that fact that Rick (as head of security) was crafty enough to get his hands on a weapon, but restrained enough to not immediately pull it on the wife-beater.  However, I do like that Douglas (and later Michonne) made it crystal clear that Rick needs to get his poop in one sock, or else….

The other subtle item in this issue is a possible rift between Rick and his son Carl.  At first, I was calling bullshit on Carl being angry with Rick for basically getting thrown in jail overnight.  But, then think about what this little boy has been through in the ~18 months that have elapsed in this series: zombie apocalypse, assumed dead father, mother shacking up briefly with another man, dad returns, many dead companions, expectation of a little sibling, pregnant mother killed, chased by cannibals, etc. with the topper being the two people that Carl has basically executed for being a menace to the group.  Then put that together with the comments that Carl has been making about how this “civilization” is make-believe, won’t last and will soften the group for the inevitable re-exposure to the zombies and it is clear that Carl is becoming the ultimate bad-ass that Rick tries to be. Either that or he’s going to become a full fledged psychopath.   The only thing that is a shame is that this series will never last long enough to see Carl as an adult.  He’s a great little character.

Oh yeah… Before I forget, we also see the beginnings of the civilization’s doom.  I’m pretty sure that this gang of rednecks that Glenn and the dreadlocked guy saw in DC while on a supply run are going to show up and cause trouble.  And….I’m fairly sure that everyone’s favorite sharpshooter, Andrea, is going to have something to do with it.

It goes without saying, but Charlie Adlard’s art is great…  Again.  The level of emotion and dynamism he puts into his characters is just amazing.  And, when was the last time you saw a funny looking face or oddly proportioned body in TWD?

What’s Not So Good: Nothing really…  I always want to see explosive events, but I find it amazing how Kirkman can avoid taking the obvious path of flinging Rick over the fence and doing a Man vs. Wild issue or two and not have it seem like he’s dragging out the story.

I do wish he’d stop torturing poor Rick though.  Having Carl turn on him?  Sheesh….

Conclusion: Another really good issue of this series that just deservedly won the Eisner for Best Continuing Series.

– Dean Stell

Grade

Conclusion