Dead End

Review: The Walking Dead final issue

Written by Robert Kirkman, art by Charlie Adlard

After 16 years, and spawning three TV shows and a number of videogames, Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead has finished.

What makes it more momentous is the way that is conclusion came out of seemingly nowhere. In order to preserve the surprise and ensure that the series got the proper sendoff, Image went as far as issuing solicitations for fake upcoming issues. In a note at the book’s end, Kirkman mentions that he wanted this surprise, like so many character deaths and twists, to arrive without warning.

And yet, as much as The Walking Dead’s final issue shocks, it marks one of the very few times when the series hits a genuinely hopeful note, its conclusion giving the sense that this is what the comic was long building up to, a moment in time that resonates as much with the reader as it does with the characters.

Compared to prior arcs where characters engaged in apocalyptic battles for survival and where there were grand sweeping changes to the status quo, issue 193’s conflict comes across as low key, a final story that establishes the long term legacy of Rick Grimes et al. And yet, the issue’s story comes across as a satisfying and fitting end.

Over the Walking Dead’s 193 issue run, the comic managed to discuss faith themes in a number of ways. While many of these verged on the standard, stereotypical ways so often prevalent in pop culture, the series was more interesting where ethical issues in tough situations reared their ugly heads. In a post-apocalyptic scenario where almost all forms of governance and technology collapse, characters’ ends often came unannounced and without much by way of fanfare, a randomness that was similar to the also-departing Game of Thrones. For all of the hopelessness that this seems to imply, however, the comic was never entirely nihilistic and without some sense of hope, and this concluding issue embodies this best.

With the exception of Tony Moore’s work on the first six issues, Charlie Adlard has provided The Walking Dead’s art throughout the entire series, a singular effort that has provided the title with its own distinct look and feel.

For a series that has influenced pop culture as much as The Walking Dead has, the comic could have easily continued spinning its wheels and continuing its arc for the sake of it, forsaking creativity for the sake of sales. It is pleasing then that the series manages to finish on a high note roughly in line with Kirkman’s plans for the series.

The Walking Dead is available now at comic book shops and online at Comixology.

Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor


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