This is the only volume of The Walking Dead to be labelled as part one of something. A subtle clue that things are about to change – or another marketing guru’s great idea. Like you aren’t going to buy the next volume, and the next and the next.
Kirkman does a great job of showing you the scale of what is going to be The Walking Dead’s mano-a-mano conflict. Not just in terms of numbers but the ideologies at stake here. Both Rick and Negan see the folly of conflict but neither has it within them to back down. Each gives their own version of Henry V’s speech to their followers.
The dead only have one weapon but when humans go to war the tactics and arms are far more devastating. By the end you are wondering if anyone will be left standing when the smoke clears. We lose some people here but as readers we have learnt not to grow attached to the new people we meet so loss doesn’t have the impact it once did.
The art is fabulous. On first reading it is so subtle and elegant that you don’t notice just how skilled Adlard is. But going back it is easy to see that it is so in tune with the story that it appears invisible. There is great work going on with the visuals and everything is running like clockwork.