The Walking Dead #181
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Charlie Adlard
Kirkman’s push to make us like Princess continues with #181.
The issue starts with Rick and the All-New All-Different Governor visiting Oceanside. The issue swaps between a number of characters – we get a glimpse of Michonne and her daughter, a glimpse of a conversation between Maggie, Aaron and Jesus, and a glimpse of a conversation between Carl and a character I totally forgot about. This has actually been a recurring problem with The Walking Dead ever since “All Out War” ended (maybe even earlier) – it has become so littered with no-name, random characters that it’s often really hard to distinguish who is who. The same face syndrome makes the matter even worse.
After this brief catch-up with most of the main characters, the focus goes right back to Rick and his current entourage as they encounter… A zombie horde! Yes Ladies and Gentlemen, the book about surviving a zombie apocalypse still has zombies in it. Kirkman and co. try to make us believe that the characters are in real, actual trouble, but they are all wearing such thick plot armor that they can’t have anyone fooled for even a second. The book hasn’t had a major character die since Andrea which, granted, was a really impactful death. If there were any deaths in the meantime, those were mostly redshirts disguised as “interesting and meaningful” characters.
As mentioned earlier, Kirkman has been trying really, REALLY hard with Princess with no success. She’s a solid idea – a character that has spent YEARS living alone and in isolation, but still manages to be quirky and optimistic, but the problem is she is extremely overdone. On the other end of the spectrum, we have Mercer who is also a new character – a really good character – and Kirkman has been a lot more subtle with him, which is proving to be the right way of doing things.
Adlard’s art is solid. It’s the same old black and white artwork that we’ve had for a very long time and it still works really well. Adlard has mastered the art of shading so the panels feel really deep and it’s always easy to distinguish what is what. There are also two glorious two-page spreads which are a real treat. The only real complaint I have about the artwork is the same face syndrome, as mentioned in the opening passage. It’s especially problematic considering the sheer amount of characters Kirkman expects us to remember.
The book still has its moments but I honestly cannot see it going for a lot longer. At this moment, it feels like it’s alive just because of the show’s popularity. The last 50 or so issues have had the same basic format – set up an interesting story, promise some bold moves and then never deliver. Kirkman should either give it a fitting end, take the book off the shelves for a couple of months like some of his Image colleagues often do, or give it to another writer for a year or two to reinvigorate it with a new and fresh perspective. In its current state, the book has become a story about a bunch of randoms sliding through a no-stakes post-post-apocalypse.
Then again, the book is still selling great so what do I know?
The Walking Dead #181
In its current state, the book has become a story about a bunch of randoms sliding through a no-stakes post-post-apocalypse.