With "The Walking Dead", Kirkman manages an unlikely blending of the two.Having recently surpassed 80 issues, it certainly has the look of an indefinite, on-going comic book series.But each collection I've read thus far still manages to feel like an individual chapter in one single story.
The sixth hardcover collection (issues 61-78)is a perfect example of this.The previous 60 issues see everyman Rick Grimes lead his band of survivors through a series of trials and horrors and deaths.Any of these ordeals could be seen as just standard zombie-related perils.But Kirkman made sure every single one of those encounter counted for something.Every character who died.Every adversary faced.Every new survivor adopted into the group.They all have an effect, and seem to lead inevitably to what happens in this volume.
Almost as evidence of the evolution of Rick and Co., Kirkman presents the group with a threat similar to one they've already seen, only to have our heroes react in a drastically different manner than the way they would have reacted earlier.It's a short and brutal encounter that leaves the reader cheering even as you are taken aback with what the Rick is now capable of.
The second half of this volume sees the group stumble into a genuinely novel situation, which only further accentuates how far down the rabbit hole they've fallen.The characters, many of whom have served as the everymen and everywomen of the story, stuggling through the zombie apocalypse, are suddenly revealed to be a cadre of severely screwed up people.
In the previous 60 issues, they've encountered, and even harbored severely screwed up people, often with wildly chaotic results.The two story arcs contained in Harcover #6 is Kirkman's way of showing you that his protagonists have become the very thing they've been hiding from.
So storywise, Hardcover #6 is a winner.But the art from Charlie Aldard cannot be overlooked.His lines are clean, his composition clear, and his knack for characterization is amazing.With an always fluctuating cast of diverse characters, its easy to not notice how helpful Aldard's knack is for giving every single person their own distinct look.And his attention to the little details is impressing as well.If you pay attention, you can watch from issue to issue as a character's hair growns.As scars and scratches and battle damage are accumulated then heal over time.Seeing a distinct article of clothing pass from one character to another was not only a nice nod to continuity, but a telling bit of characterization.
My only regret about reading this amazing comic in these beautifully collected editions, is that I've run out of collections.I'm caught up with the current issues, still on the shelves at the LCS.Kirkman and Adlard's amazing efforts have me a bit down that I'm now going to have to wait a month for each new chapter.
eBook The Walking Dead, Book Six