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The Walking Dead #165

 Review by Paul Bowler

Opportunity strikes as the battle for survival rages on in The Walking Dead #165, Alexandria has fallen before the terrifying might of the Walker herd unleashed at the end of the Whisperer War, and now the shambling tide of the dead threatens to overwhelm them all. Trapped inside Alexandria, Rick and Negan must work together to have any hope of escape. Meanwhile outside, Carl leads a group of Hilltop survivors into battle with Dwight and his team to thin out the herd while Maggie, Andrea, Eugene, Michonne, and Jesus set out on horseback to drive the horde away from Alexandria and towards the ocean, as the Saviors continue to watch, and wait for their moment…

The war with the Whisperer might be over, at least for now anyway, but there have been major losses on all sides. Father Gabriel is dead, the Hilltop has been completely raised to the ground, and Beta’s parting act to set the massive Walker herd on Alexandria has placed Rick’s community and his friends in dire peril.

Rick Kirkman always writes The Walking Dead in a way that often challenges and defies out expectations with the completely unexpected. In hindsight of Negan’s and Rick’s impromptu hear-to-heart last issue – now there’s a sentence I never EVER thought I’d write in a million years – the dynamic between them has been radically altered, but as they fight side-by-side against the Walkers in this issue there’s still that gnawing doubt that the reluctant trust this situation has forged between them is more a case of better the devil you know for both of them. Still, it will be interesting to see how this pans out. Its also good to see the rest of the Alexandrians following their lead – especially after they all high tailed it and left Rick and Negan to fend for themselves when the gates of Alexandria fell – and rise up to fight alongside them against the undead masses.

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Charlie Adlard’s artwork for The Walking Dead #165 provides us with a veritable tour de force of action and drama, with bold, stylishly structured page layouts building the tension. The 16 panel page grid is once more utilized, arguably to ever greater effect that even during the Whisperer War, to condense the action featuring Rick and Negan, Carl and Lydia, Dwight’s team, Andrea, Maggie, Dante, Jesus, Michonne, and Eugene as the battle inside with the zombies and the plan outside to ferry the herd away form Alexandria unfolds at break neck speed! Stefano Gaudianos stunning inks and the impeccable grey tones by Cliff Rathburn bring added fervour and intensity to every scene. The panoramic Cliffside two-page spread is both beautifully and horrifically realized by Adlard, Guadiano, and Rathburn, succinctly and sharply polarizing the simplicity of Eugene’s assessment of the success of their plan with the potential environmental consequences such action will bring to coldly illustrate that – zombie apocalypse or not – humanity is still probably going to end up dumping its shit into the sea until the end of the world and beyond anyway.

This issue frenetically intercuts between a number of plot strands, with attempts to prevent sections of the Walker herd turning back towards Alexandria putting key characters in moral jeopardy, and the Saviors – who have been observing from the sidelines for so long – finally decide to make their move. To think, only a few issues ago, it looked like Rick had won the Whisperer War, but as Beta retreated the Walker herd was released, and with all the communities in disarray everything that Rick and the survivors have fought so hard to build looks like it could be swept away overnight.

The Walking Dead #165 is another terrific issue from Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard that takes this Image Comics series to new heights of unparallel drama and suspense. Things that have been foreshadowed are slowly coming to pass, the spoils of victory are there for the taking, it just remains to be seen who will be left standing to claim them! The Walking Dead #165 certainly has a cliff-hanger to end all cliff-hangers as well, and its one that’ll sink its teeth into the collective fandom of The Walking Dead like never before!

Publisher: Image

Writer: Robert Kirkman / Art: Charlie Adlard

Inks: Stefano Gaudiano / Grey tones: Cliff Rathburn / Letters: Rus Wooton

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