It’s a watershed moment for Rick Grimes.
The Walking Dead has reached a mighty impressive milestone this week. Readers are no doubt expecting big things from this issue, whether that involves the death of a major character or three or a huge status quo upheaval akin to the violent debut of Negan in issue #100. But while this issue certainly has its dramatic moments, never is there the sense that Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard are treating this as anything other than another chapter of their ongoing saga of survival.
Instead, issue #150 serves as the momentum boost The Walking Dead needed. Since the dramatic events of issue #141, too much time has been devoted to characters mourning and squabbling about how to respond to the threat of the Whisperers. The series needed something to give it a kick in the pants, and the events of this issue serve nicely. This is yet another chapter of the book that reminds readers that the living, not the dead, are the greatest threat to mankind’s survival. Moreover, it cements what has become the central conflict of the series since the end of the “All Out War” storyline. Humanity is balanced on a razor’s edge right now. The return of civilization is possible, but it’s just as likely that chaos and in-fighting will undo all the hard work Rick and his allies have put in.
Perhaps the real driving question of this issue is whether Rick is the type of leader who can propel his people beyond that hurdle. Kirkman strikes a delicate balance in his portrayal of Rick in this issue. On one hand, he re-emerges as the confident, inspirational figure who can rally the troops in desperate times. On the other, there’s a lingering sense of unease as the reader is forced to question whether Rick is headed down the right path and if a certain someone’s influence is becoming a little too pronounced.
Kirkman’s script gives Adlard plenty to work with this month. For one thing, there’s a fight sequence that easily ranks among the most violent and gripping in recent memory. There’s a great use of light and shadow in many scenes that further heightens the dramatic intensity. Adlard also delivers many pages focused on close-up shots of characters conversing and planning, and these sequences come alive thanks to his facial work (which doesn’t suffer from the repetitive quality that’s marred some recent chapters). There is one splash page whose presentation manages to make a key sequence seem goofier than it really should, but otherwise Adlard’s work is impressive.