New arc and closing in on the big 100? Sounds like a good place to jump back into the world of The Walking Dead…
Previously in The Walking Dead: I have only read the first arc of this apocalypse story, so I have no real idea what has happened in the last 90-some issues. Here is what the book tells us: Rick has made a deal with the members of the Hilltop to protect them from Neagan’s malicious community. This decision was inspired by a new sense of hope—that he and the survivors could finally begin to rebuild civilization—and truly start living.
THERE WILL BE BLOOD
The story opens up at the end of a church service with the minister giving a final prayer, which is used nicely to let us know that Rick and company are up to their shtick of leaving for a more dangerous situation. After a quick blurb about Maggie having repeated stomach sickness (hmmm wonder what that could mean), we jump over to Rick and the rolling death van.
In what I was hoping would just be a nice afternoon drive for everyone, a bike gang ruined that by demanding all that was inside the van. Riding under authority of Negan, the bikers were demanding payment for the protection that they offer; however, Rick, Andrea, and Michonne show they can handle themselves with a few face shots and beheadings.
After the dust settled on this issue we have learned much of what has been happening: Lori has died and Rick is starting to play the field, Carl had a head injury and suffered some memory lose, and Rick seems to be in a leadership position with his new camp (how was he only a regular officer before the turn?). And in the near future there will definitely be more blood and death.
WHEN ZOMBIES COME, MEN WILL HAVE GOATEES
Coming into Walking Dead, it takes a few pages to become adjusted to the art since black and white isn’t being done in many other books. Going black and white can be more of a challenge because artists have to rely on drawing distinctive characters since there is no color to set them apart. Sadly, Charlie Adlard doesn’t excel in that department for this issue. All the women are easily identifiable, but the men seem to blend in together. Besides every man having the same facial hair, the rest of the art was roughly, but well done.
BOTTOM LINE: COME ON IN, THE WATER IS FINE
If you only have slight background information on The Walking Dead, even if its from the TV show, you should have very little problem figuring out what has happened/is happening. There is a nice balance of exposition and action that keeps the issue moving while filling in knowledge gaps and setting up the rest of the arc. If you haven’t been reading this book, Walking Dead #97 is a place you can jump in and hit the ground running. 3 out of 5 stars.