Walking Dead #83 made that happen, I gasped, I dropped the comic, I couldn’t go on. It took me several minutes to pick the issue back up and finish it. At this point I usually drop some sarcasm bomb about how bad a comic is, not this time. Walking Dead #83 is in the top four of the absolute best issues the series has cranked out during the run. This is why we read Walking Dead, this is why Robert Kirkman is revered as a writer, and this is why AMC clamored to have the television rights. I was so floored by this issue that it has reinvigorated my devotion to the book.
At the end of last issue all hell had pretty much broken loose. The roamers had come into the community where Rick, his son Carl, Michonne and the rest of the gang had taken residence. Mayhem had erupted, the civil exchanges going on between the characters were long gone and the primal desire to survive had taken over. Even Rick, the central character who had always put others first turned a corner, admitting he was going to leave people to their own devices in order to save his son. Issue 83 is all about relationships and the power they have even when everything is coming down around you. Sure there’s lots of gore and living dead action, but the heart of the issue is relationships.
One of the most effective scenes happens between Michonne and her recent love interest Morgan. Suffering from a roamer bite, Morgan is coming closer to death and his eventual re-birth as the undead. Knowing this, Michonne opens up to him the way she hasn’t to anybody else. It’s a very real and organic way to reveal this side of her. Kirkman, who keeps the final action off-panel, allowing our imaginations to guide us, handles the end of the scene, which is tragic, with real style and grace.
I especially liked how the violence was cold and real. There was none of the triumphant hero-to-the-death thing, nobody sacrificing themselves for the greater good. It was simply people running for their lives and having those lives torn from them in a ghastly way. One scene in particular, where Rick makes a decision in order to save his son, is very powerful. There is a big reveal here, a major shocker that will have people talking about Walking Dead #83 for a long time, but it’s not everything. I hope the punch doesn’t take away from how wonderfully and beautifully the entire issue is, that would be a real shame.
Even the art, which has long been the Achilles Heel for me on Walking Dead, seemed to shine a bit brighter. The emotions were there, the power in the faces and the bold shadows helped really bring in the mood. Charles Adlard really stepped up this time and it reflects in the statement made with every panel. I still think that too many of the characters look similar, but with issue #83, even that gripe can be overlooked. This is why we read comics and this why all of us who read and love them believe they can be powerful artistic statements and literature. That idea is held between the pages of Walking Dead #83.