Review: The Walking Dead #81


SPOILER ALERT! This is an overview/review of the most recent issue of The Walking Dead. There will most likely be story and plot spoilers so if you haven’t read it yet, and don’t want it spoiled, then bookmark this page, read the issue and come back to read and discuss this article. Thank you.

Written by: Robert Kirkman
Art by: Charlie Adlard
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover price: $2.99

No Way Out, Part 2: This is the issue that reminds us the dangers of the world Rick and his crew live in. It seems for a while now they have lived safely in the Community, protected by walls and living in nice houses. They have begun to settle into the closest to ‘normal lives’ that they can. Has it made them soft? (Do zombies prefer soft bodies to hard bodies?)
Rick has allowed himself to get close to someone for the first time after the death of Lori and their newborn baby girl. While it’s good to see Rick allowing his human side to come out it’s curious that the woman in question, Jessie, is also the woman who, until recently, had a very abusive husband than Rick ended up killing. This begs the question of is she sane or seeking some kind of revenge or is one of those people who always has to be with someone…which might cause some problems.

The Walking Dead #81

Glenn, for his part, is very worried about Andrea who is still trapped in their watch tower, separated from the Community by a massive group of zombies.
We check in on Michonne who has gotten into a rather uneasy relationship with Morgan. Morgan has a hard time being happy because he feels guilty over just being alive while his wife and son are dead. Michonne, in her normal hard edge manner, tells him “But they’re dead and we’re not. We’re alive… So we live. Can we just go by that rule?” She’s a very complex character sometimes.

While we have all this drama going on we also have a massive herd of zombies trying to break the walls down to get to our heroes. The wall holds, for the most part, but some of the supports were just placed in holes, five feet deep, and filled in with dirt. These supports present the problem. One of them begins to loosen.

Glenn, Heath and Spencer formulate a plan to see if Andrea is alright and take her some supplies. Using a rope with a grappling hook at one end of it, they plan to move from the wall of the Community to the roof of a house and, from there, look for Andrea. The second part of their plan is to figure out a way to draw some of the herd away from the wall.
It’s a plan that is basically being formed on the run but the rope crawl from the wall to a close by roof is a very stressful page or two.  Especially when the rope breaks as Spencer is going across!
I won’t say exactly what happens to poor Spencer but they do find Andrea!

Then the wall comes down…

This issue ends with a slap in the face to the readers. We are suddenly reminded that the only rule of this series and this world is: no one is safe. The wall breaks, zombies pour in and Tobin is the first to fall. Rick is alerted and, as is his way, calls his troops while on the way and is joined by Morgan. They try their best to hold off the horde until more help arrives but Morgan is bitten and the zombies close in on Rick…

Now, I’ve just started reading this series on a monthly basis. I read the bulk of it through the trades. Volume 13 took me up to #78 and was released the same time #79 came out so I decided to make the jump so it would be easier to cover this series for Comic Booked. I have a question for you people who have been reading the monthlies since this series started: How the heck do you handle EVERY issue being a high stress cliffhanger?! This is my third issue and I’m ready for more trades. They don’t come out as much but the cliffhangers are not every month!
As a newcomer to the monthly format I’m impressed by this fact. It’s very difficult for a series to have a real cliffhanger at the end of an issue but to have on at the end of EVERY issue is near impossible!

Kirkman shows his series still has teeth. Even after 81 issues it still keeps you on the edge of your seat and wanting more. I have to wonder how he has been able to do this with a series that has no super heroes, no one has any powers, it’s in black and white and the zombies have been a constant threat since the beginning, though not always the BIGGEST threat. If I wore hats, I would take one off to Mr. Kirkman.

Adlard’s art is something I’ve been impressed with from day one. His minimal detail betrays itself, when you read an issue you actually see more details than are really there. It’s so fluid it’s like you’re watching a black and white movie.

If there is one complaint I have here it’s that characters like Tobin and Spencer, while they have been around for a while, haven’t been fully formed. The interesting trick here is even with that in mind you still catch yourself saying “NO!” when the rope snaps and Spencer falls into the zombies and I actually “Tobin…Damn” when I saw what happened to him then moved to the next panel where Rick was saying “Tobin. Damn.” So even though they aren’t fully formed they are still people you know…weird.

No Way Out…this is possibly the biggest and most dangerous situation our heroes have been in since they fought the Governor. (I still hate that man)

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