You have to give this to Robert Kirkman: every time you think you know what’s going to happen in this long-tenured zombie epic, the opposite happens. Coming off the momentum of the No Way Out story, where we thought that Kirkman had once again written these characters into a situation where the odds were against them, we find that this community that Rick and the others have established are here to stay, at least for a while.
This issue is the aftermath issue, where the citizens of the Alexandria community are trying to recover from the tidal wave of zombies they just fought through last issue. As seen with last issue, Rick inspired the community to rise up against the hordes, and in this issue we see them start to develop some strategies for staying in the walled community.
Kirkman always does a good job of returning the book to relative sanity, with a few hints that things might not be all they’re cracked up to be. Despite the victory, relationship tensions continue to be at a high level, and that’s really where this book shines. The Walking Dead is not a horror book but a relationship book, and this issue continues to fire that fact on all cylinders.
But the question still remains: Where do these characters go from here? Since they defeated the horde of zombies, which is the base-level threat of the book, has the story “jumped the shark”? That remains to be seen, but with threats to Carl’s health still looming, and Rick’s leadership tied to his love for his son, the underlying doom for this community continues to rest with the main character and his psyche.
Issue #85 is a great jumping on point for new readers, because all you have to know is that these characters have just defeated a bunch of zombies and are still trying to figure out how to move forward. Charlie Adlard continues to display his comfort in this book. His craft of facial emotion and smaller panels paired with 2-page spreads continues to make this a top-level book artistically. My concern is what happens the day Adlard leaves this book.
Overall, this book is always at the top of my pile and this issue is no different. The Walking Dead, even in its quieter issues, continues to treat its readers to some of the best dramatic storytelling in comic books today.
An advance PDF was provided by the publisher for review.