The title says it all. Time has passed and the communities are thriving. Our characters finally have time to more than catch their breath and you begin to see them (as they themselves get to) finally remember they are human beings.
The dead haven’t gone away, there are some strangers just arrived, and of course you know the ticking time bomb that is Negan will eventually blow it all to hell. But Kirkman shows you just what we have been fighting for, the valuable peace that All Out War has secured.
We get to see emotions other than fear, grief and terror, and that is very valuable in storytelling. Characters get to show their wants and needs and so become much more rounded and dear to us. Making it all the more tragic when Kirkman decides we have had enough of our happiness ration.
The art is superb and Adlard clearly pushes himself hard using lots of strong techniques in lighting, framing and visual exposition. He must also do a lot of research making the characters, props and environment look just right.
This volume simmers. It is the perfect blend of gentle storytelling and lush characterisation contrasted with building tension and subtle danger. It does seem to cut sharply and almost haphazardly between the different threads but not to the point of frustrating you.
We also have another superb cliff-hanger as Kirkman’s imagination pulls another rabbit out of the hat and shows us something terrifying.