The opening pages rely heavily on artist Charlie Adlard’s illustrative talent. Nearly an entire page of panels is dedicated to visuals of the speechless, dumbfounded WD crew as they look upon their new surroundings with shock and disbelief. But after following The Walking Dead for years and witnessing countless betrayals, you can’t help but share their skepticism. At this point in the story, the reader feels like a member of the crew, so even a group of carefree children playing in zombie-free suburban streets can leave you with an uneasy feeling.
Rick is introduced to Douglas Monroe, the leader of the community and a former politician. Although Monroe comes off a little crazy, the two seem to bond over their acceptance of violence as a necessary reality, even before the dead began walking.
Monroe quickly invites Rick to stay in the community, where he promises Rick will be provided with some of the luxuries he thought he’d never enjoy again – electricity, running water, and a home. In exchange, Rick and his friends must become fully functioning members of “society” and contribute to the success and survival of the “safe zone.”
Rick’s former experience as a police officer leads to his appointment as town constable, a decision that made me incredibly uneasy. After living in a world without law and order for over a year, can we really expect the WD crew to become stable members of society again? We’ve seen them commit countless morally questionable acts, a reality that made me fear more for the welfare of the people within the community. Furthermore, this month’s cover art is unsettling. Rick’s uniformed image is veiled in shadows (the shadows around his face are almost sinister), and although he used to be a police officer, he definitely isn’t the same man he used to be.
If anything, this issue drives home the reality that the zombies are no longer the enemy in The Walking Dead. Throughout the series, the mindless hordes of zombies have literally torn this group apart, but it is the calculated and deliberate actions of the other characters (the Governor and the hunters), that defines the true villains. Ironically, it is actually within the fortified walls of the “safe zone ” where the true danger lies, and not in the zombie infested outside world.