THE WALKING DEAD #169 BY ROBERT KIRKMAN AND CHARLIE ADLARD
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
THE WALKING DEAD #169 is a needed issue that transitions the plot from one phase to the next. Robert Kirkman reveals what he's been planning, and it will have long-term fans excited for the next step. Charlie Adlard's artwork expresses all of this wonderfully as well.
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THE WALKING DEAD #169 is the beginning of the next stage in Robert Kirkman‘s zombie epic. While there’s still some fallout from Andrea’s death lingering in this issue, the bulk of the comic deals with Rick learning of Eugene’s radio and the mysterious woman on the other side, Stephanie. While there isn’t a lot of action in this installment, the plot development continues to show how much Kirkman has planned here. It’s his greatest strength, and he’s using it to his complete advantage.

CARL’S REVELATION IS SADDENING AND BEAUTIFUL

This issue starts with Carl telling Lydia about the time he killed Ben, one of the twins from the early days of the series. This revelation is such a throwback. I had to look at some previous issues for memory’s sake. I’d completely forgotten Carl got away with murder. It’s an excellent reference on Kirkman’s part, and it reminds readers how long this series has been in print. The point in Carl’s telling of this, though, is that he did eventually tell Andrea. She said she still loved him, and that was when he began calling her mom.

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THE WALKING DEAD #169
THE WALKING DEAD #169. Image courtesy of Image Comics.

Much of this issue revolves around Rick’s decision to let Negan fend for himself out in the world. In Rick’s mind, the man has earned the right to be free. While this seems noble on Rick’s part, Maggie and Dwight believe otherwise. Maggie grinds her teeth as she expresses her distaste with the decision, while Dwight flat out tells Rick to step down. Words in both situations are shared, but the conversation with Dwight flares at times. It reminds us how close Rick is to falling over the edge. It also reveals how much he almost wants to.

EMOTIONS ARE RAW AND REAL in THE WALKING DEAD #169

All the depictions of the characters are very raw in this issue. Rick is openly a mess, Carl is conflicted with his plans, Maggie isn’t afraid to show her anger, and Dwight is willing to show his second thoughts. While there are times I think Rick’s anger flares too much, I do have to remember Andrea just passed away. His reactions make perfect sense in that context.

THE WALKING DEAD #169
THE WALKING DEAD #169. Image courtesy of Image Comics.

Overall, the plot of THE WALKING DEAD #169 is great. There are so many threads to follow that Kirkman just has to write the dialogue and let Charlie Adlard do the drawing. While I do think some of the issue feels rushed — Rick makes a brash decision upon learning about Stephanie — I thought it was a smart move not to linger. Andrea’s death in issue #167 was so monumental and touching. This series is about death, however, and Kirkman knows not to dance around one grave for too long.

CHARLIE ADLARD’S ARTWORK REVEALS ALL

As always, Charlie Adlard’s artwork is consistently poignant. Some heavy scenes require keen facial expressions, and Adlard delivers exceptionally well. In particular, I love the stoic look Lydia gives at the beginning of her conversation with Carl. It shows how solemn she is after all of this, and how ready she is to listen. Then after Carl breaks down, she gives a slight smirk. It isn’t mocking in any way. It’s contrary to it, in fact. She’s smiling because she admires Carl. The story he delivers is so twisted. There’s no denying this. Yet it ends so sweetly, and Lydia can’t help but focus on that. Adlard’s drawing shows that perfectly.

READ: SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING is out this week, too! Here’s our take on the Prowler casting!

If you’re ready for the next installment of this series, THE WALKING DEAD #169 is one you certainly don’t want to miss. After years of staying planted, there’s going to be a lot of movement in the issues to come. This has me excited! It also has me nostalgic for what THE WALKING DEAD used to be: a bunch of stragglers doing anything to survive. It looks like Kirman might be returning to the series’ roots.

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