When Rick and his gang of survivors first found a secure and safe community, Robert Kirkman began to construct an illusion of safety. For a while, it seemed as if The Walking Dead was going to end on a good note, Rick felt safe, Carl was healthy and most of the survivors were as content as one could be during the apocalypse. However, as soon as things seemed at harmony, Kirkman began pulling loose the threads that constructed the very same sense of amity. The Walking Dead #95 is the culmination of the slow unraveling that has been occurring since the survivors stumbled upon their new community. This issue finally shreds all hope for survival and introduces us to a brand new hell.
Like any great artist, Robert Kirkman understands the importance of anticipation. Few writers have the skills or patience to build a sense of dread like Kirkman has in the past few issues of The Walking Dead. As Rick and his group are lead by Jesus to the new community, it is in these moments that we are shown the first signs of the nightmare to come. But more than hint at the inevitable trouble that is around the corner, The Walking Dead #95 further pushes Rick to the brink of inhumanity. Without giving too much away, Rick is placed in circumstances that force him to shed the mask of civility that he has been wearing for far too long and become the cold killer that we know him as. In the wild zombie infested world, men like Rick are celebrated for their ruthlessness. However, in a thriving community he is seen as a monster, and Kirkman does little to hide this fact.
Artist Charlie Adlard is given plenty of space in this issue to create beautiful layouts of the new community and the areas around it. That sense of dread that is felt in this issue is in large part due to Adlard’s artwork. Even in gray tones, the contrast between light and dark are felt more than seen. As dark clouds hover, you get the sense that something dark is on the horizon. It is in these entire page spreads that Adlard shines as someone who understands the tension that art can build.
I feared that The Walking Dead would not continue in safety and comfort for much longer. This issue solidifies those fears as the survivors are introduced to a new community with a new set of problems. The Walking Dead #95 is the tipping point for a storyline that is looking to follow in the footsteps of previous encounters with the Governor. As The Walking Dead continues to carry Rick and the survivors into a dark new era, as readers we can only read on and hope for the best.
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