Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 03.30.2011 – Walking Dead #83

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

427
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.8
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 3.9%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
story ROBERT KIRKMAN
art & cover CHARLIE ADLARD & CLIFF RATHBURN

Size: 32 pages
Price: 2.99

There are several elements that come into play with the successful telling of stories. Usually a comic book series will focus on doing one or two things very well, not having the luxury to really focus on more than that. Walking Dead is a unique example in comics. It's a very long form story, with no discernible ending point, just like many superhero books, but different than those, the story is completely at the whims of the creators. Consequences are real in this fictional world, and you really never know where the characters stand. In this way, one thing at which Walking Dead succeeds is the element of surprise. You really don't know what is going to happen, who is going to show up and who is going to take the dirt nap. At least for the most part. Because Walking Dead has a lot of luxuries that most indie comics don't. It's been around a long time. You get to know the characters quite well, because we're 80+ issues into this thing. And while there are surprises, as a reader you start to perceive patterns, and create safety that doesn't really exist.

 

There's no point in even trying to maintain a spoiler free environment at this point, so from here on, you're warned. Deal?

 

At the start of this No Way Out storyline, we saw something that was familiar. Rick and company found themselves another group of survivors and they cautiously integrated with them, under a banner of some semblance of protection and normalcy. It all seemed like it might be OK. Of course, it wouldn't be. We've seen this before in the series, like with the prison. Something goes wrong, usually as a result of human faults, and the raging tide of nature (zombies) destroys all they have. In escaping, they always lose some members, and usually one of them is someone you have known for many issues. There are surprises, yes. Robert Kirkman halved the size of Rick Grimes' family a little while back, and no one saw that coming. But the zombies got them, and it's understandable. When the shit started hitting the fan at this new community, it was time to start hightailing it out of there, and we expected casualties. But this is where I give Robert Kirkman credit. He surprised me again, and I really thought I couldn't be surprised like this anymore when reading Walking Dead. But man, did he do it.

 

I was lulled into a false sense of security early in this issue. Rick hacked up a zombie and festooned its guts about his band, as a means of camouflage. We've seen this in the comics, and in the TV series. I got a little annoyed. It put me off my guard, which turned out to be exactly the thing I needed for the next act. We're conditioned by years and years of these kind of stories to sort of expect that the heroes will prevail, especially when they're children. Robert Kirkman holds to no such rules. The group escapes out the front of the house, and it all starts to go to hell, as expected. Almost immediately things start going wrong, and the cover is blown. Then Rick's new girlfriend, whose husband he got rid of to protect her, loses her son to the zombies and she won't shut up about it. Then she won't let go of Carl. Given no choice, Rick hacks off her hand. That would have been enough. Carl is saved, and Rick has to force himself even further into the boundaries of what he will do to protect his family. You think that's the big surprise moment, but you're wrong. Guns start firing, and there is a friendly fire incident. The victim is a character you have really come to believe is above danger. Not since issue #48, where Lori and baby went down, have my eyes bugged out of my face in the way they did while reading Walking Dead #83. I really thought it couldn't be done, but they got me. I could not believe they did that. But they did.

 

In the back of my mind, I can't help but think of the monstrous success of the TV show, and how it's a frightening possibility that it will affect what's going to happen in the comic book. See, I don't care if the TV show diverges from the comic story. I'm fine with that. But I would hate to think that choices are being made in the comic that service the greater good of the TV show. In this issue, Kirkman reiterated to us that that's very likely not the case. If it is the case though, I can't wait to see the media reaction if the TV show ever decides to emulate that happened in this issue.

I wouldn't dream of forgetting Charlie Adlard. It's easy to take him for granted. He's regular, steady and always reliable. We know who we're looking at, and we know what's happening. The consistent tone and look of the world of Walking Dead is one of the things that lulls us into that false sense of security. Not that the characters are safe from harm, far from it, but that we generally know what will happen. We expect the bad things, but with just enough imagination, that rug can be yanked out from under us as well. It's through the skillful acting Adlard projects into the characters; the look in Rick's eye when he knows what he has to do next, and the body language he projects after the fact. It's the moment where we see who Michonne really is, and her sadness. There are hordes of undead zombies, and they really become commonplace, and their lifelessness a real aspect of how they operate, unthinking and ruthless. I always feel the need to point out how hard the job is for an artist who doesn't have superhero costumes to rely on to differentiate between characters, where they're all just regular people in regular clothes. There's never a fill in, and the books always come out more or less regularly. It makes the Walking Dead that much more of a treat for those of us reading it in issues, or even collected editions as the case may be.

 

I do love a surprise, and I love that Robert Kirkman knows the importance of that surprise. It says something great about him that after 83 issues, he's still putting everything he can into this book, when the reality is that he doesn't even really need to do it anymore. He could coast, and he'd still collect his checks, but that's not happening. No, Walking Dead is still vital, exciting, engaging, and damned good. Every time. Plus, it can still surprise you.

 

Josh Flanagan

Grizzly. Whoof.

josh@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. lol josh, u have committed a cardinal sin and spoiled walking dead on the internets! The PoTW pod is gonna be interesting this week…

  2. Booo. I read this in HCs, so I can’t read this review or listen to the podcast. But I’m glad its good.  

  3. Holy shit….

    Kirkham did what to who? I have a feeling it’ll be a fake out but then again the cover for Walking Dead #85 says a lot….BTW I read spoilers on another website so I won’t spoil it any further then Josh has.

    Great review Josh. 

  4. This is the only thing I’ve read from my stack and I aleady know it’s my POTW also.

  5. Yikes, that two page made my stomach leap.

  6. Josh, am I imagining things but didn’t you have POTW last week? 

    Anyway, I don’t actually read this but it’s still a surprising pick. How long has it been since one of you guys picked an issue of Walking Dead as Pick of the Week? 

  7. @glwarm76  You can listen to the podcast, just skip the beginning. Utilize the show notes – that’s why we do them! 🙂

    @Ilash  We had to juggle the schedule because of WonderCon. It happens.

  8. I work here, and I can’t keep track of whose pick is when. I am in awe of you people.

  9. @glwarm76  – I keep the podcast and listen to the any discussion I skipped for books I haven’t read.  The notes do help.

  10. I was just about to read this.  Now I’m even more excited.  Time to dive in.

  11. Two in a row! You wanna try for three? Hunh? Do ya?!

  12. I have truly enjoyed this series from the begininng, but after the events of this issue i don’t know if i can keep putting myself through this stress. I mean i read comics as a way to relax and enjoy the stories, but I’ve become too emotionally envolved with some charcters to just not care. I mean this is super f-ed up.

  13. I can’t fault the pick but I had to go with Scalped this week.

  14. wow. walking dead single issue. what a world

  15. Great review Josh 🙂

    I read this issue while sitting alone in my car, straight out of the store, and I literally let out an audible gasp while reading it.

    That’s never happened to me before. 

  16. Anyone know if there might be another compendium of Walking Dead coming out anytime soon? Or at all?

  17. @SpiderTitan  Not for a while if there is.

  18. This makes me happy that Walking Dead Finally made POTW. Thank you for reading this in issues Josh because this was easily the best comic book to come out this week and to have it get overlooked would have been a shame.

  19. I had to put the issue down and walk around my house for a while when THAT happened.

  20. @ShonenRafa77  I also had an audible gasp when I flipped to the two-page spread.  I just stared at it for I don’t know how long.  It was as big of a punch to the gut as I’ve had since the issue 48.  

    Kirkman, you are a sick bastard but I love you.

  21. I had the EXACT same reaction 41 issues ago at the prison escape.  It went something along the lines of me standing up, grabbing my hair, saying “holy shit”, remembering the issue isn’t over, and sitting back down, attempting to finish while my hands were shaking. 

  22. I felt like I was reading a B&W issue of Crossed tbh.

  23. Wow, this was quite an issue. Josh, I felt the same way you did — I didn’t THINK they could do get to me. But… yeah.

    I’ve come to really appreciate WD as a serialized comic. It helps that it comes out with alarming regularity, and I’ve been enjoying issues as a way of keeping tabs on these characters, and seeing what they’re up to each month.  In that sense, I’ve become more acclimated to some of the grisly stuff that happens each month. It just rolls along – and I mean that as a compliment.

    But they got me with this issue. Honest-to-goodness emotional gut reaction.

  24. Crazy bugged out eyes here, Can’t believe he’s still breathing, need the next issue! The Walking Dead seems to be coming out really often at the moment, feels like only a week or two ago I picked up #82

  25. Everybody calm down!!!! Josh didn’t reveal what the real big spoiler!!! So calm down!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. I’m with everyone else. Didn’t think Kirkman could get me quite like that anymore. But boy did he ever. As Josh pointed out, chopping off Jessie’s along with all the other chaos going on really did a good job in lulling our senses. Expertly played.

  27. Wow! Just when you think some people are safe! That splash page near the end melted my brain.

  28. Snack on that Hickman!

    Kidding.

    Josh pretty much summed it up. This book delivers. It has always delivered. Every single issue. That’s unheard of in comics. This one was no different. Kirkman’s way of showing us that domestic life is impossible in this world was more than effective. It was damn near heartbreaking.

    A normal life is part of what these characters have been in search of for almost this entire series. Now that they’ve learned the hard way that “normal life” is extinct, where do they go from here? What happens when that hope is gone? Can anyone survive without hope?

    More specifically, what will happen to Rick after this (assuming ____ does not survive)? We’ve seen Rick react to trauma in every way possible. This could shut him down completely. Forget losing his status as leader. He’s gonna have a hard enough time putting one foot in front of the other after this. I cannot wait to see where they go from here. But then, this is Walking Dead. I can always wait.

  29. First time a comic book made me scream out loud.  I’m going to have to tell that to Kirkman at Wondercon.

  30. As soon as I read this I immediately ventured over here to make sure that it was potw. This is a serious shocker and I’m glad to see I’m not alone in thinking so. can’t wait for the podcast.

  31. So good.

  32. Loved this issue and Hickman is one sick twisted bastard (in case there was some question whether he “lost” his edge since the TV series began).  But for me since I’m a sentimental shlub, I had to choose Spidey 657.

  33. I meant Kirkman.  My brain got used to Hickman as POTW.

  34. How many of us had to turn back to those pages just to see if that really happened? 

  35. just finished reading it…

    holy shit.

    no, really.

    HOLY. SHIT.

    fantastic review if an incredible comic issue!

    (I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep well tonight…)

  36. People need to stop losing their heads over “spoilers”.

  37. i know you guys hate this question, but is it even possible to jump on to this series cold and fully appreciate it? Or is it best to start at the beginning with the compendium or something?

  38. @wallythegreenmonster – I would start at the beginning.

    The tension building up to the moment was superbly done. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that!

  39. I yelled out when I turned the page last night. My wife thought something heppened. I told her “something DID happen!”

  40. @Wallythegreenmonster:
    You would do a disservice to the book and yourself if you didn’t start from the beginning. It’s well worth the money and time.

  41. @supertrackmonkey  @ActualButt  –i figured that much. This is that one exception to that “just jump on” mantra. Its been on my list for so long to go back and start on it…i just need to do it. 

  42. Great Review! I’m glad Walking Dead is getting some love in the issue format. So many folks get the HC or trades. I have been coming to ifanboy for a while, but this is my first comment. YAY!

    WOW! This issue was great and the reason Walking is one of the best things going right now. Without to much spoilage, Lets hope that ____ will survive and have a badass look with a ____ over  his/her ______.

    Was I the only one that felt this moment coming in the issue and was glad it wasn’t another character? I was literally relieved, but sad for feeling that way. Only Walking Dead can get me to feel so many emotions and have me question my own thoughts about who I would want to live or die in the book.

  43. WOW.  I just finished this.  It has to be the pick.  Has to.

    Wow. 

  44. Dammit! No Image books shipped to the UK this week so we have to sit and wait for what sounds like an incredible issue.

  45. I read this yesterday. Ive been walking around with my jaw scraping on the floor ever since. 

  46. It was the first issue I read from my stack. It was nearly 2 hours before I could carry on with the rest of my comics. “Did he just do that!?!?” – I kept saying this over and over to myself.

  47. Why did Douglas have to go out all gangsta like Queen Latifah in set it off? It’s not cool when they are Zombies you idiot!!! 

  48. So glad I waited to read your review until I read the issue.  I haven’t had this visceral of a reaction to comic book since #48.

  49. @ShonenRafa77  Same here. I said HOLY SHIT.  Out loud!

  50. this issue actually blew my mind. sick bastard. 🙂

  51. I have a question for you long time Walking Dead readers…
    I’ve been getting this, until recently, exclusivly in the trade format (not graphic novel, TRADE PAPERBACK) and on a 6 month, or so, basis the cliffhangers were killers.
    Starting with Volume 13 I switched to the monthly format because I started reviewing the series for a website and I have to know: How the heck have you long time monthly readers been able to do cliffhangers like this EVERY MONTH?! I’ve only been doing this for a few months and it’s maddening!

    My hats off to those of you who have been doing this since issue one!

    That two page spread have me frozen for nearly 5 minutes…I stopped staring after I realized I was actually shaking and my roommate came running in the room because I yelled “NO!” when I saw it, lol… I love how a comic book can create characters out of nothing and make them mean so much to us readers. I’m the same way with Fables. Jack Of Fables #50 was a bitter sweet issue to read.

    Can’t wait to hear this weeks cast with this issue!

  52. Holy crabcakes is all I can say.

    Seeing what happened honestly knocked me back in my chair and took my breath away.

    I’m a long time funny book fan and nothing — nothing — in comics is or has been like ‘The Walking Dead’. Kirkman is a master and I am in awe of what he has been able to do and take us all for the ride with him. Great stuff.

    Now I’m off to finish reading ‘Cujo’. I hear that the ending will help pick up my spirits.

  53. holy crabcakes indeed

  54. @Zarathos81: I think the answer to your (rhetorical?) question is those of us who’ve been on board since #1 simply don’t know any other way. I just had a friend in your situation compare this death to Lori and the baby’s demise. He said this one was no less shocking, but held more of an impact because he couldn’t just keep reading. I on the other hand, remember both events as two of the most shocking moments of my comic reading lifetime. This is TWD. So welcome aboard. Good to have you. Just be prepared and have your sleeping pills handy. I doubt it’s gonna get any easier.

  55. On page 16, I yelled out loud. After I finished, I realized I was rocking back & forth mumbling “nonononono.” I need a drink.

  56. First audible gasp from me since they fled the prison.

  57. @WheelHands  lol…gee, thanks….I think

  58. @Saltwater  Wow, I did a turn-back too. Then I left it on the “reveal” page for like two minutes just looking at it – my brain could not accept what my eyes were seeing.

    Great review, Josh. He really fished me in too – I thought we were in the clear at that point. What a bastard that Hickman is!

  59. Not any disrespect, but I really don’t see why so many prefer Tony Moore’s work to Adlard’s.  He is consistent, yes, but I can’t think of a better writer suited to a black and white comic. I can’t imagine anyone else doing this book.

    People know what I’m talking about when I say TWD issue 48.  Well, now it’s issue 83.

  60. @UncleBob: I haven’t heard many Moore vs. Adlard complaints for years now. I think at the time it took some getting used to because their styles were so different that the transition was jarring for a lot of people. Also Moore was the more practiced of the two all those years ago. I don’t think anyone nowadays would argue that this is Adlard’s world and has been for years. Not to mention the fact that he’s grown tremendously as an artist. I think if Moore had stayed on, the book would still be tremendous. It would just be vastly different. 

  61. This comic broke my sould.

  62. I mean it broke my soul.

  63. Only Kirkman… Only Robert F*cking Kirkman…

  64. The more I think about this issue, the more morbid I begin to feel.  I happen to think they are going to spin it so he lives.

  65. @spiderphilman  They could make it even MORE tragic if he does live. What if he’s got no personality anymore? Unable to function normally or even feed himself? Effectively lobotomized? It would almost be like a living zombie.

  66. I’m gonna throw up. Oh God. OH GOD! DAMN YOU KIRKMAN!

  67. This one really suprised me.  I read a treat by like Brubaker or Remender or someone that said “Finally, an issue of Walking Dead has a happy ending”.  So like a sucker, I went in honestly believing that… boy was my mind blown.

  68. Yeah this one definitely gave me a visceral reaction. Gasping and jaw dropping, to be sure. I really like how Kirkman lulled us into the same old same old of “oh these people will die…these people will go through a gauntlet of zombies” etc, but then totally pulls the rug from under you and breaks what I and certainly others thought to be untouchable, almost taboo.

    This certainly changes the status quo of the WD world…I can’t wait to find out where we go from here. 

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