“THE WALKING DEAD: NO WAY OUT” (Graphic Novel Review)

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Originally published at Fangoria.com on June 19th, 2011

Horror at its best, THE WALKING DEAD: NO WAY OUT (Image Comics) continues the long-running riveting character drama and compelling survival tale. Even as hope dwindles and characters lose faith, the last thread of humanity struggles to exist in a zombie apocalypse. This volume collects issues #79-84, which capture genuine emotion, suspenseful sequences in unbelievably over-the-top situations.

The frightened residents of a gated community wrestle with the realization that either way, there is no escape for them. If someone takes a risk and leaves their fortified residence, the zombie horde will eventually kill them. If they stay inside, their minds will go crazy with claustrophobia. The barricade is the only thing that separates the humans from the undead and Sheriff Rick Grimes questions how long these walls will actually stand.

Food is scarce but not a priority as the snow begins to fall. What Rick and the others have is very little time to prepare themselves for the worst, and as the only law enforcement around, Rick must keep everyone secure while not falling into panic himself.

Creator and author Robert Kirkman focuses on the emotional relationships between the central protagonists as this particular storyline contains a major look at the bond between father and son. Carl attempts to emulate Rick, who is desperately trying his best to be a great leader. Subsequently, when Carl is severely wounded, Rick loses control and lashes out at the roamers. Even through so much loss and despair, Kirkman reinforces the message of hope, and the unbreakable human spirit.

As penciler and inker, Charlie Adlard’s artwork sets the appropriately dreary mood. As one character uses his dying breath to teach life lessons to Carl, mistaking him for his own son, Adlard’s close and detailed work packs an emotional wallop. On the other end, the splash page with Rick and his team, exhausted and drenched in blood after their battle with the roamers, will stick in your mind after one glance.

THE WALKING DEAD: NO WAY OUT is a truly epic effort. Kirkman and Aldard are still hitting all the right notes of a great zombie story; one you shouldn’t be missing out on.