REVIEW: The Walking Dead #72

I have a little backlog of reviews for the past several issues of The Walking Dead stacked up, so I figured I’d post them up here.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this community arc when it first got going, but as it’s developed, and we’ve come to learn what it’s really all about, I’m starting to think it could turn out to be one of the most ingenious storylines in the history of the series.

It’s funny how an issue without any zombies, heck without any real violence or even immediate threat, can have you coiled up with agonising tension throughout. On one hand, it’s quite shocking to see the shoe on the other foot, reaffirming something that Fear the Hunters set up – that now it’s our survivors that are the humans to truly be afraid of. We’ve been on the side of Rick and co. for so long, that it’s difficult seeing them start to do something which seems wrong, going against what seem like basically good, harmless people. And after last issue’s last page bombshell, I love how an entire issue is basically spent working on making us forget it, so Kirkman can shock us all over again with this issue’s last page.

But on the flipside, Kirkman and Adlard cleverly still put us in the shoes of our protagonists. We feel their paranoia, get a sense that something is wrong even when the people in the community aren’t necessarily doing anything overtly bad. Take the ambiguous way Adlard draws Douglas’ face at the bottom of page 3. Is that an “I’m sad and lonely and now my feelings are hurt” face or an “I’m gonna make you pay for that bitch” face?

I also loved how this was a real ensemble piece, with all the major characters (save for Carl, who got plenty of spotlight last issue) getting their moment to shine. To single out a couple, I particularly liked the transformation of Abraham – he’s gone from hardened tough guy to meek civilian, and we share his sense of dread about having to leave this fragile “normal life” to go back out into the real world. But best of all was the work done with Michonne. After being the el primo badass zombie slayer for so long, of course it was going to be hardest for her to put on a dress and mingle with the housewives. It’s like a soldier without a war. And I really enjoyed the two page montage showing her memories of the katana as she puts it into “retirement”. As well as showing how scared she was in her first time using it (something until we’ve only heard her talk about, rather than actually seeing it) we got to see a lot of familiar scenes – ones where we just thought “what a badass” when they first happened – from her perspective, how she saw them. And we realise what a toll Michonne’s experiences have taken on her.

So all in all, the gorehounds wanting constant zombie carnage might be left cold by this issue, and this arc as a whole. But those of us who just devour rich characterisation and slow-boil tension will find a whole lot to love here.

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