The Walking Dead #97 is the first issue in the highly anticipated “Something To Fear” story arc, which was announced back in February. Death and destruction are coming for Rick and the survivors and writer Robert Kirkman has made it clear that this time, there is a lot to lose. For several issues now, Kirkman has been building to this moment through a series of brash decisions made by his protagonists. The coming storm is the result of those decisions and to quote Wyatt Earp, “You called down the thunder, well now you’ve got it.”
When people speak about The Walking Dead, inevitably someone will bring up the point that “it is not really about zombies.” There is definitely some truth to that statement, especially in light of the comic’s current events. Issue after issue, Rick and his gang have become increasingly desperate. It is obvious that after all the loss and death, that there would be a breaking point for the survivors. In the past few issues Kirkman has depicted this despair as Rick’s veiled grasp at optimism. With food running low and winter coming the survivors have been backed into a corner. As it is with most threatened animals, instead of finding a way to escape, they simply attack.
This issue of The Walking Dead begins the start of several poor decisions fueled by the desperation of Rick and his crew. From the start of this series, Kirkman has made a point of changing and bending Rick’s personality and morality. The horrors and tough choices Rick has been forced to commit have finally shaped him into a very different man. What is disguised as carefully thought-out plans are instead the hasty moves of an over-confident survivor. Rick knows that the people around him are hardened killers, but for a while now, they have been the only ones. Now with the approach of an additional group of fighters, brutal reality is about to slam back into focus.
The Walking Dead #97 is an issue dedicated to building a foundation for this story arc. After slowing the action of The Walking Dead to a crawl for a handful of issues, fans are ready for a little bloodshed. Issue #97 satisfies that craving in small amounts and promises much more violence to come. With this issue, Kirkman takes it slow in order to build anticipation. These are the last moments before all hell breaks loose, and personally I can’t wait.