Well… I did NOT see that coming. Your Major Spoilers review of The Walking Dead #193 awaits!
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler: Charlie Adlard
Inker: Stefano Gaudiano
Greytones: Cliff Rathburn
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 3, 2019
Previously in The Walking Dead: Sebastian Milton shot Rick Grimes. Then he shot him some more. Carl arrived at his father’s residence the next morning, to Rick reanimated as a walker. Carl immediately shot that walker in the head, only to then realize what he’d done. Carl arranged for his father to be transported back to Alexandria to be buried, but he wouldn’t travel alone, as he was joined by the many, many people whose lives his father affected.
This is what happened next…
SUDDENLY, THE LAST ISSUE!
It’s always hard to try and review TWD, simply because so much of the series is based on the immediacy of the stories. When someone dies, or the players change or a Negan arrives, it’s more enjoyable to just embrace it and let this world wash over you. So forgive me if I’m even more vague and oblique than in my usual review, simply because of the amount of work that the creators of this issue put into the surprise aspect. With the death of Rick in issue #191, it seemed like we were going to get a shift of main character to his son Carl Grimes, and this issue follows through on that. We also get another time-skip, moving forward in time to see an adult Carl, married to Sophia, raising a child in the world Rick Grimes made. If you’ve ever worried that ‘The Walking Dead’ spends too much time setting up new settlements and refuges from the walker plague, only to blow it up and start over, this is an issue for you. Unlike that cyclic story, things have progressed to the point where Carl’s reality is barely recognizable as the world we’ve been reading about for nearly 200 issues. We get moments with all the surviving characters (though which ones are still alive is also part of the surprise and the fun), we get to meet Sheriff Kapoor, who had been teased once or twice as a replacement for Rick… We even get to see Carl being the cutest dad ever, reading a story that helps to fill in some of the gaps of what we missed and doubling as a fond farewell to Rick, the series and the dedicated work of Kirkman, Adlard and company.
”IN A WORLD RULED BY THE DEAD, WE ARE FINALLY FORCED TO START LIVING.”
When the news broke (which is to say, like so many things, when Stephen messaged me to ask how I felt and if I’d review this issue), I felt something that I haven’t felt about monthly comics in literally YEARS: Genuine, gobsmacked surprise. The kind of surprise that I have missed from my earliest days of reading comics, before the direct market, before Previews and internet sneak peeks and coming attractions and leaked images. It was a good surprise, but one tinged with regret, and it’s clear that the creators share that sadness at the end of the series. Even so, they commit fully to a truly impressive ending, one that ties together the themes of the book and is as infused with the spirit of Rick Grimes as any issue made while he was alive. Charlie Adlard’s art is really impressive in this issue, giving us characters who have aged but are still recognizably the same and imbuing drama into even quiet moments that consist of two people talking in an otherwise empty room. The issue opens with a very cinematic two-page zooming shot to a walker that is absolutely perfect in its cinematic stylings. As for Kirkman’s story, he manages to balance a lovely farewell to Rick with the ending this series and setting deserves, making for a read you just can’t put down.
BOTTOM LINE: THEY PULLED IT OFF
In the back matter, Kirkman even shares a very long rumination on why the book is ending, how he came to this point, the difficulties of pulling off the surprise ending and even his own regrets. (It’s almost a better read than the issue itself, and it makes it clear that he wishes the book could continue, but isn’t willing to let it spiral off into endlessness or self-parody.) The Walking Dead #193 is, at the risk of beating a dead horse, a surprise in all the right ways, but it’s a clinic in how to do a final issue in your own time, on your own terms, and it succeeds on every level for me, earning 5 out of 5 stars overall.
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THE WALKING DEAD #193
It’s not every day you get a triple-sized book for the regular price tag, and having it be this good makes that even sweeter.