(UPDATED: Added a 5 page preview.) The past few months have been some of the most strenuous and terrifying times for the entire cast and crew of Image Comics and Skybound’s “THE WALKING DEAD”. With “NO WAY OUT”, the latest and most controversial story-arc in the series to date, has left a lot of questions unanswered, but most importantly it has created a ripple effect that will be felt for the foreseeable future. With several of The Survivors now dead (or dying), and an cloud of speculation thick above the heads of those left behind, series creator Robert Kirkman is set to release the latest installment of the series with issue #85. What does the future hold for Rick Grimes and the rest of the cast? Can they ever find peace or a semblance of salvation in the wake of the zombie apocalypse? Read on for the skinny…
WRITTEN BY: BY: Robert Kirkman
ILLUSTRATIONS BY: Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn
“Where do we go from here?”
When Robert Kirkman boldly proclaimed that the 83rd issue of “THE WALKING DEAD” ended with “A happy ending” on his official Twitter page, he showed the type of sick sense of humor that was as tongue-in-cheek as the issue was dour. Carl is on his deathbed having taken a gunshot blast to the head, and father Rick Grimes is paying constant vigil at his side hoping against hope that the only family he has left will somehow survive. Meanwhile, several of the key members of his group are left to pick up the pieces of their once safe-haven without the aid of their leader. In many ways the entire cast lost their heads (for lack of a better term) when Kirkman rolled out the bold two page spread, and now it is left open to speculation as to whether or not this will be the death blow for the survivors as a whole. It is no secret that Rick was struggling mentally, even before his son was nearly killed, and the repercussions felt after the loss of his wife Lori are still being played out even today. That said, one can only begin to imagine what sort of terrible circumstances these current events could lead to given the events of “NO WAY OUT”.
Issue #85 is a litness test for each and every major player within the series. Now, more than ever, the team needs to find itself a suitable heir to the tattered throne in case the final pieces of Rick’s psyche do finally begin to crack. Some have suggested that Michonne will finally rise to the occasion and become the leader that she has shown she can be at times. While others now believe that the group will simply continue to cave in around itself, proving once and for all that the biggest threat that they face is not the hordes of “THE WALKING DEAD”, but the survivors themselves. Indeed, we have seen now what horrible lows Rick is willing to stoop to in order to protect someone that he loves, even if that means sacrificing another. This type of ‘kill or be killed’ mind-set may have worked in the past, but now that he has fully shown what he is capable of will the rest of the cast continue to trust in Rick the same way that they always have? In my opinion the answer is up for debate. Whatever the case, it is a sure fire bet that the answers won’t be easy to come by.
Besides the fact that this issue of “THE WALKING DEAD” will be the first since the end of “NO WAY OUT”, readers will also be treated to a prequel for Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner’s “WITCH DOCTOR” (Our Official Interview Can Be Found Here.) with issue #0. The story will be available in the back of the book as a “flip-book” style story, and it will serve as a building block for the already insanely strong momentum that the title has garnered before it makes its official debut on June 29th. Given the fact that the series is not only the first ever exclusive title from Kirkman’s publishing imprint Skybound, but also one of the most touted new series of 2011, it would seem that this would be more than worth the $2.99 price-tag alone. In addition to that, “WITCH DOCTOR” illustrator Lukas Ketner has also donated a special variant cover for the ish which will also be available to select retailers.
When all is done and read, “THE WALKING DEAD” #85 is one of the most important issues in the series yet. A barometer by which the events of the next several months will be judged, and a book that has its fans anxious with anticipation. So while we may not have any answers yet, and while the future is even more uncertain than ever, we can venture a guess that wherever Kirkman decides to take us it will be one hell of a ride.
“THE WALKING DEAD” Issue #85 Drops May 25th From Image/Skybound! (MSRP – $2.99)