There are some comics that are of such stellar quality that you sometimes forget how good they truly are. You expect to have your pants blown to the moon but they only reach Uruguay and for some reason you then feel disappointed; even though most other comics barely manage to inflate your pockets. "The Walking Dead" is one of those comics, so let me take this opportunity to tell you this title is still as good as you remember and want it to be. And this issue might just get your pants into the asteroid belt.
The gang are stuck in a new community that's safe and fenced in. Life is almost reverting back to normal, if you count political power plays, abusive husbands, revenge bashings, and general zombie patrols the norm. Readers have worried that this is simply a slightly modified rehash of the prison storyline. Those people could not be bigger fools if they tried. This storyline may hold similarities to the prison arc, what with the tight confines and the external threat, but there are some major differences.
The characters are all in a different space emotionally and spiritually. This will affect how they act, interact, and react. The external threat is completely different and makes for a very new and uncertain breed of tension. This idea has the ability to slow burn for as long as Kirkman needs it to. This is the sort of concept that makes an old school zombie fan, like myself, very excited to see what's going to happen.
As always, it's not just the terrible flesh-eating monsters that make this comic amazing but it is the character work on display at all times that enlightens and makes for a smart book. Kirkman puts a lot of words into the mouths of these people but there isn't any hassle in reading it all. You can power through pages of prose because it's all interesting. There are amazing moments for many characters; Abraham's comes through action, Rick's comes through lots of dialogue and then one interrupted line, and Carl's comes from only a select few words. Kirkman really has an ear for the voices of the children, it truly is a talent.
Adlard and Rathburn continue to showcase why they're one of the best teams in the business. They work with pages of dialogue and know not to get in the way, but when given a sparse panel they milk it for all it's worth. Large mention should go to the snow that is constantly falling and doesn't appear to have been laid by some computerized filter.
The start of this new story arc, 'No Way Out,' is quite simply sublime. It's a mixture of dramatic moments between characters, the threat of very real and awful danger, and just perfect timing that make this comic one of the best set of 22 pages you will find on the shelves today. This comic is too exciting to trade wait, it's much more satisfying to get a sample every month and then spend the time in between wondering and hoping. For a single chapter in a larger story, I don't know how this comic could get any better. "The Walking Dead" is one of the most satisfying periodicals on the stands, it's thrilling and brilliant and you should not miss out.