"The Walking Dead," nearly 90 issues and eight years (this month!) into its run, is still a book that delivers consistent compelling drama and plenty of scares thanks to strong work by writer Robert Kirkman and artists Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn. If only all comics could do so well.
In "The Walking Dead" #89 Rick, Andrea, Glenn, Michonne, and the rest of our heroes have sparked a small group of the community they've formed into revolting against them. Ironically, it's the well-honed survival skills of our heroes and their close relationships that has both made them leaders in the community and also marks them as a threat. Equally ironic is that just as they begin to really set down roots in the community, digging in to make it the best and safest place it can be, some members begin to feel threatened.
I was disappointed that Kirkman opted for Carl to survive what I believe was a mortal wound several issues ago, especially after Kirkman had taken Carl's father Rick into an interesting direction as a result of the incident. I'm still disappointed, but as a consolation prize Kirkman is delving into a potentially very interesting storyline for Rick and Carl as both father and son, and as hard won survivors of their circumstances. And in a nice bit of writing and plotting, the final page of this issue works as both a message to the characters inside the story and to Kirkman's readers. It reminds readers how far these characters have come and simultaneously how far the ride is from over.
As always Adlard and Rathburn deliver beautiful, consistent, and emotional work. They have such a confident handle on all the characters that what is wonderfully well-considered feels almost cavalier. It's second nature at this point. "The Walking Dead" has always relied heavily on equal parts seamless action and strong character work, and this issue continues that tradition by delivering good emotional beats for several characters and ending with an intense physical altercation. The beats of Kirkman's script could easily be lost or, worse, overblown in the hands of lesser artists. Instead we get a well-balanced book that hits the right notes.
"The Walking Dead" has had peaks and valleys throughout its run like any long-running series, but unbelievable commitment by Kirkman, Adlard, and Rathburn to the story and characters has made it one of the best ongoing comics in the last ten years. This issue is no exception.