The Deal: The latest issue of Image Comics' The Walking Dead gives us part four of the book's "No Way Out" story arc. In this edition, our lead characters and the community they've been building for the last few months gets overrun by zombies.
The Bad: A common pitfall in the world of serialized fiction is the habit of turning ongoing story lines into exercises in brutality. What I mean by that is, at one point, many writers seem like they are less interested in advancing any sort of story and more interested in doing screwed-up shit to their lead characters; this happens a lot in television (on shows like Oz and Nip/Tuck), and you see this mistake in comics all the time. Famed X-Men writer Chris Claremont, for example, once said in an interview (and I'm summarizing a bit) that his goal was to put his heroes through hell on a monthly basis. Now, I hate to disagree with Mr. Claremont, but if you want to make a work of fiction entertaining for years and years, the story has to be more than just "let's fuck up the heroes." Ultimately, a work has got to be about some grander ideas ... and it has to be going somewhere. I say all of that in reaction to last week's edition of The Walking Dead — which showed me, finally, that this is one comic that's on the wrong track. I've been reading the series from the start, and I've hung in there through all the gruesome deaths, bizarre twists and gory turns. But this month's issue sort of devolved much of the character development we've seen and returned things to the comic's basic, dreary status quo. In that respect, The Walking Dead is sort of like Good Times — they're just never getting out of the damned projects (until maybe the last issue). And, honestly, I'm just not interested in reading it anymore.
The Good: The Walking Dead still shows off a great flair for dialogue, and the art is still amazing. Nothing's changed in that respect.
The Verdict: I'm dropping the book, but this is probably the perfect time for new readers to pick it up. I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the turn of events when it comes to the story (what with a hit TV show and all), but I'm not happy.
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