It’s never easy making new friends. The idea of opening ourselves up is only natural when we’re children. After a few years of life slapping us in the mouth and friends betraying us for any number of reasons, we relent, we build walls, we close up shop and stand back. Making new friends is hard when the only things at stake are hurt feelings or wounded pride. Imagine how hard it must be when lives and physical damage are held in the delicate balance. I say this to impress upon you where we are in The Walking Dead. Issue #95 has our normal cast of characters trying to make new friends - friends who could destroy them or ensure their survival.
Who these people are has yet to be established and how their enormous camp came into being is another secret. Regardless, they are a new community, amassed, successful and building a life in the wake of the zombie apocalypse. On the other hand, Rick Grimes' community is falling apart. The seams of his original party are frayed and even the new blood is beginning to fall into dissention. Rick is a former cop, a man who thrived on control and order. He may be a good person, he may have the soul of a leader, but he also believes in using force to uphold the law and has dedication to mistrust. The loss, pressure and lack of hope has pushed Rick into becoming a control freak, the madman with a gun that he was originally trying to protect everyone from.
Now comes the new group and their charismatic new leader. His name is Jesus, a fact that alone inspires trust. He is promising that the union between his group and Rick’s will be something wonderful. Rick doesn’t trust him, which is met with more uncertainty from his own people. As untrusting as he is, Rick still takes a small group to meet this community and decide the next move. The place is massive, not a small enclosed lot like Rick’s group live in, but acres of land, a giant hotel on a hill that serves as living quarters, a kitchen, horses, and most importantly, hope. Even Rick is convinced that this could be a good thing.
Cue problems. Problems in the form of a young man returning to Jesus’ community from a failed mission. He is alone and babbling about how someone is holding Crystal captive, someone with a message. The message is violent. The young man stabs one of the community elders. Rick is the only person to step in and try to stop him. None of the new people will help and with his crew taking a tour of the grounds, Rick is left to fight this fight alone. In a moment of desperation, Rick kills the young man. This is where the issue ends but the story begins.
Where is Crystal? Who has her captive? Is Rick’s killing of the young man going to spurn retribution? Will his community leave Rick and assimilate into this group? Is Rick losing it? These are the questions we have as Walking Dead nears 100 issues. The answers will be hard ones and the results will surely open up an avenue for the next story arc. On it’s own, issue #95 is a solid read. It’s a set-up issue, but Robert Kirkman’s natural ability with dialog and pacing keeps it from feeling like one. Walking Dead continues to be about the people not the zombies. It leaves us wondering if the Walking Dead aren’t actually the poor survivors of this apocalypse.
I still hate the art.
(5, Story, 3, Art)