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Comic book of the week: The Walking Dead #70

This week’s top pick is The Walking Dead #70 written by Robert Kirkman with art by Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn. Most people are going to point to Blackest Night #7 as the big book of the week and they can do that if they want. Me, I like my zombies in the traditional style, no chatting, no super-powers and no jewelry.

Enough about Blackest Night. Why is TWD the book of the week? Because it’s ALWAYS the book of the week whenever it comes out. It is the best ongoing series that’s on the stands today, bar none. For over six years now, Kirkman has been telling the tale of the day-to-day struggles of survivors of a zombie apocalypse. And every single one of those issues has delivered the goods.

Kirkman is one of the best writers in the business. It’s his title, so he’s free to do whatever he wants to the characters whenever he feels like it. This is a freedom most comic writers don’t have. Kirkman uses this to his full advantage, never allowing readers to become too comfortable. They know that in any moment terrible things may befall the characters. Main characters, women, children, no one is safe in Kirkman’s world. This knowledge adds a tension that most horror books lack.

The black-and-white art by Adlard and Rathburn is powerful and an excellent compliment to the excellent writing. They have proven themselves more than capable replacements for the series’ original artist Tony Moore. Which is no small feat, since Moore himself is hugely talented.

Issue 70 finds the group of survivors in a rare moment of calm. After a long and difficult journey, they’ve reached a fortified settlement that is supposedly safe and free from the horrors on the undead.They spent the issue finding out about their new home and neighbors.

There’s not a zombie to be seen in this issue and yet it remains gripping due to Kirkman’s powerful writing. Seeing the groups emotions as they attempt to come to terms with being out of danger is just as enthralling as the zombie attacks in previous issues. This is what really makes the book work. It’s easy to focus on zombies, there’s no need for characterization or growth with the undead. But it takes true talent to keep the camera on the humans and give them a sense of depth, making the reader connect and actually care about them. Because Kirkman has the patience and talent to get the reader invested in his characters instead of just rushing from one shocking moment to the next, these quiet moments have real resonance and impact.

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