Written by Robert Kirkman
Illustrated by Charlie Adlard
‘NO WAY OUT’ continues. What is left but surrender?
No way out. The arc title and solicit says it all, and frankly there is no point meandering about in the typical opening paragraph style. So despite Walking Dead being an incredibly difficult book to review, this is an issue we definitely need to talk about.
So take a look after the cut for some thoughts on this issue, but keep in mind that massive spoilers are discussed. This issue of walking Dead is certainly going to grow to be one of the issues that shapes the future of this book (whatever future the characters have at this point, anyway).
Robert Kirkman is a creator who has certainly made a name for himself amongst the comic community as a “no holds barred” storyteller, but even when something like this happens, as much as we might have thought we saw it coming, we still didn’t. And all that we can really say when we’re done reading is: God dammit!
So without beating around the bush too much more, this issue sees the continued downfall of the community. Rick has admitted that he no longer cares about anyone and is willing to leave everyone to die as long as Carl and he remain safe. Together, he and a few others band together to try and escape the zombies in a storytelling throwback (which you can assume was done with Kirkman revisiting old stories because of the show, in all honesty) by covering themselves in guts and making a run for it. Of course, as they get out into the wild, literally all Hell breaks loose. Thanks to Douglas’ reckless behavior in accordance of his current futilist rationale, the following ends up happening in a horrifying sequence of events:
First, Ron (Jessie’s young son) is attacked by zombies and killed.
Then Jessie, who is holding on to Carl’s hand, attempts to save Ron but is swarmed by zombies. So Rick cuts off her hand at the wrist to free Carl, and Jessie is killed.
Douglas, firing wildly into the air and all around, is swarmed by zombies and killed.
Meanwhile, a stray bullet flys and hits Carl in the eye, taking out a good portion of his skull.
Carl’s fate is undetermined by the end of the issue, but as we turn to the last page we’re left only with Rick, Michonne, and Doctor Cloyd as Rick pleads to Denise to do something to save Carl.
So I reiterate the opening statement of this review: God dammit.
There is something to be said to the fact that Robert Kirkman has been writing this title for 83 issues now, and yet an issue like this feels just as fresh and shocking as any other issue that we’ve read in the past. Seeing Rick hack off the hand of the woman he was up until recently sleeping with is sad enough, and rather indicative about Rick as a character now. We’ve seen some excessively disturbing things in this book in the past, yet Carl with a portion of his face blown out is still just as traumatic as when we saw Laurie’s death, or Tyrell’s. This only goes to show the intense character development the series has ultimately seen, in that we as readers have created such an intense care for the ongoing plight of the characters in the book that moments like this are gutwrenching. It’s also fairly intense to see Kirkman crush the character’s hopes and dreams like ants, if only because to play it safe in a title like this would completely defeat the purpose. And if Kirkman can kil a character like Carl, who knows what other shocks are in store for the rest of this storyline (although I would assume none will be as brutal of a page turn).
I’m also reminded of the time that Kirkman had Conquest kill Atom Eve in the pages of Invincible during the Invincible War. However, this time I think it’s safe to say that superpowers won’t be saving the day at the last second.Continued below
Normally I take a paragraph or two to really shine the light on the art and storytelling of an issue, but I think it’s safe to say that anyone reading the Walking Dead at all knows that Kirkman and Adlard absolutely kill it every issue (no pun intended). The team is one of the top two in comics, as is Kirkman with most of his storytelling cohorts. Kirkman has a great relationship with his artists in that you can tell that he and whoever he works with have undeniable chemistry as creators and synergy. The Walking Dead, 83 issues in, is certainly no exception. Adlard is a powerhouse of an artist, and the issue – which is literally a mess of zombies – is still crystal clear. Kirkman also uses one of his favorite storytelling techniques with Adlard here, which is that of the two-page spread that is literally just one big talking heaed. Whenever Kirkman pulls out one of those, you can tell it’s a big moment of the issue (see: previous issues of Walking Dead or several moments of Invincible/viltrumite War). Carl’s face, as rendered by Adlard, is still a haunting image fresh in the reader’s mind days after reading the issue.
We live in a world full of “safe” storytelling. Take for example the upcoming events from both Marvel and DC. Yes, they claim to be universe shattering, and to a certain extent we know they will be. Something will be different in both Marvel and DC’s respective Earths by the time the story is done. However, I think it’s assumed that the good guys will win in some form or fashion, so you’re never too worried. But for the Walking Dead, this is the prison all over again. Just as that storyline saw Rick and Carl limping away from the devastation, the ending is completely 100% open. We don’t know if the good guys will win here, and in a horror based comic, that’s definitely for the best. If the character’s don’t feel safe, neither do the readers, and you just can’t get that in the world outside of the creator owned. The Big Two have rules, with a long history of repeating ideas. The creator owned world? There are no rules. And in Robert Kirkman’s world? There are even less than that.
Suffice it to say, The Walking Dead is a must buy for any comic book fan. If you’re buying in trade, stop it and switch to singles. Not because the book needs the support financially, but just because the single issue experience is so much more rewarding. And if you need a place to start, No Way Out is a great place to break up your trade collection, because in all reality the wait between this issue and the next is already painful – and any comic that can get it’s readers to react so heavily to situations like this is worth it’s weight in floppies.
Final Verdict: 9.8 – Buy
Editor’s Note: We’re saving the 10.0 for the big finish, but depending on how the arc raps up this could be Walking Dead’s inevitable entry into the Issue of the Year 2011 vote. Either way, it’s certainly going to make the next “Top 10 Moments of the Walking Dead” whenever we make one.