REVIEW: The Walking Dead #171


Previews Says:

FEAR THE PRINCESS: Who is she, and what does she want?

What We Say:

I am about to write something that I never thought that I would write.

Robert Kirkman is phoning it in on The Walking Dead. He has lost his own narrative. Sure, he is the creator of the series and whatever he wants to write is instant cannon, but this latest offering has to make longtime fans scratch their collective heads in wonder. TWD has only grown in popularity since its inception; the TV show only added fuel to a raging fire, but now for the first time in over 170+ issues Kirkman is showing signs of losing control of Image’s biggest cash cow.

The cast is bloated. The drama is repetitive. The book feels more like a sci-fi soap opera than a mile-a-minute, balls to the wall, horror-filled thriller like it did just a few issues ago. I’m starting to root for the zombies. This cast and their problems are stale and boring. We have seen this group struggle for so long that it has lost its appeal.

I remember hearing how during the writing of “The Stand” that author Stephen King began to lose interest in writing his magnum opus. The characters had lost their edge and he wondered why. The answer that he came to was that he had his characters trying to rebuild the hum-drum society that had fallen apart around them. They were rebuilding the boredom that the readers had just watched them escape from with the end of the world virus.

The same can be said here. Kirkman is spinning his wheels trying to rebuild the same old boring world before the zombie outbreak. It’s boring. It’s tedious. It’s the last thing fans of the TWD want. Don’t get me wrong, we all wish that Rick and company could find a safe place to live out the rest of their lives and die of old age. But where is the fun in that? This is a tale about the zombie apocalypse! This is a series that has flourished when introducing madmen like The Governor, Negan, and the Whispers.

Even with the introduction of a machine gun-toting motor mouth nicknamed “Princess”, Kirkman is backing off on the action that has made this series iconic. It feels like we are just going through the motions at this point. Here is a new character that will be fodder for later, and the rest of the group will over analyze their death; Rick will brood and the rest of the cast will wait their turn to die. Rinse and repeat.

I’m sure that there will be some initial hype about this issue. It’s the intro to a new TWD character, but at this point who really cares?

Kirkman needs to take a cue from Stephen King and take a sledge-hammer to the lives of his characters. Shatter their world. Shake things up in bold new ways. The series that has been built on subverting expectations is now stuck repeating the same tired troupes again and again. It’s time to let the zombies loose. It’s time to let the cast fend for themselves. Either wrap-up the series with a bang or blow up the established rules and start over because if this is the new direction of TWD, it’s just more of the same old same old.

Final Score: 2 out of 5 zombies

The Walking Dead #171
Story: Robert Kirkman
Art: Charlie Adlard
Inks: Stefano Gaudiano
Letters:  Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics

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