THE WALKING DEAD BY ROBERT KIRKMAN, CHARLIE ADLARD, AND STEFANO GAUDIANO
Plot
Characterization
Artwork
Summary
THE WALKING DEAD #181 gives us some good ol' zombie killing action. Robert Kirkman does an excellent job delivering a familiar zombie herd situation with a fresh lens: we see what the Commonwealth soldiers are capable of. Charlie Adlard and Stefano Gaudiano's artwork is as stellar and classic as ever. This is a good first step in a new chapter.
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THE WALKING DEAD #181 is a first step in the potential relationship between our heroes and The Commonwealth. Last issue ended on a bit of a sour note, as Pamela and Rick discussed forms of government and class. This issue, however, starts on a positive note as Rick shows off Oceanside. Pamela is impressed by both the beauty of the ocean and the organization Rick is showing off, and further plot points follow. Robert Kirkman continues spinning his web with THE WALKING DEAD #181, while Charlie Adlard and Stefano Gaudiano display it all with wonder.

There are Still Plenty of Zombie Herds

What I really enjoy about THE WALKING DEAD #181 is the action. I enjoy seeing the likes of Mercer teaming up with Rick and Princess; it’s like seeing a bit of a crossover. Obviously Kirkman couldn’t spend an entire issue showing Pamela around Alexandria: that would have taken too long and bored us readers. So, instead, we’re given a bit of conflict that demonstrates the capabilities of these powerhouse civilizations.

THE WALKING DEAD #181
Image courtesy of Image Comics

While all of this chaos is occurring by Oceanside, Carl shows Joshua (one of the characters they rescued from the Whisperers) around while Maggie interviews his parents. Post interview, she asks Jesus and Aaron if they’re absolutely positive Beta is dead. They vow that he is, and a chilling wind passes by as Maggie wishes Beta (and the rest of the Whisperers) good riddance.

Who Exactly is Princess Again?

Pamela and the other Commonwealth members aren’t the only people Rick shows around. Princess is around for the tour, and she’s as much of a firecracker as she’s been in every issue since her introduction. However, we see a bit of her anxiety leaks out when she talks to Rick and Mercer, claiming each is cool in different panels. It would seem Princess has a bit of a crush on one (if not both) of them. Mercer actually winds up saving her life mid-battle. Consequently, Princess gives him an aggressive kiss, claiming she thought they were having a moment.

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She’s definitely off, and I’m curious about how old she even is. It’ll be interesting to see how much of a wildcard Kirkman makes her in upcoming issues. But for now, most of our drama appears to be between Pamela, Rick, and now Mercer, who is quite disappointed in Pamela’s behavior during the zombie attack. While Mercer puts on a show and is subservient towards Pamela, he’s not afraid to sometimes state what he’s actually thinking, particularly when he’s angry. It’s clear there’s a power struggle between the two and I’d bet that he owes her some type of debt.

The Artwork of THE WALKING DEAD #181

THE WALKING DEAD #181
Image courtesy of Image Comics

Charlie Adlard does a great job with his pacing in this comic. It’s very clear where every character is, both on and off panel. Kirkman set him up with a lot of open environment to work with, and Adlard absolutely nails it. We haven’t dealt with a herd in quite a few months, so it felt refreshing to see some fear in the eyes of our heroes again. I particularly like the looks of trepidation as Rick and Dwight calculate what to do. While dealing with a herd is nearly routine, they understand it’s still a major risk. Adlard captures these looks perfectly.

And of course Stefano Gaudiano’s inks are as smooth and stunning as ever. Each character stands out when they need to, and the background is clear and prominent when the scenes call for it. A good inker makes these subtle things possible.

What to Expect Next

THE WALKING DEAD #181, as mentioned, is a great first step in a new direction. Now that these two civilizations have met each other, it’ll be interesting to see if an alliance is formed or if another war takes place. Pamela mentions to Rick that she’s never had to dabble in war. Rick simply replies that she should count herself lucky. Is this a bit of a prelude of what’s to come? Or perhaps Pamela is lying? I don’t find her particularly shady, but the way she defends her class system is highly suspect. We’ll have to see what happens next!

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