The Walking Dead #176 handles the previous issue’s cliffhanger and lets it stew for 22 tense pages, building a taut emotional ride that begs for more pages.
If you have not read issue 175 there will be spoilers ahead, you have been warned.
The New World Order begins in issue 175, introducing a vast civilization of 50,000 survivors which drastically changes the power dynamics of the story. The gut-punch at the end of the issue comes when Michonne finds out her daughter Elodie is still alive. It’s a development that will forever alter the arc of a character that has been part of the series since issue 19.
What Robert Kirkman does in issue 176 is let the reader simmer through the entire issue, with the hopes of distracting you from the underbelly of the Commonwealth. This issue is like going to the DMV, but you can’t see the tellers are cutting people’s fingers off at the front of the line. As a fan of The Walking Dead, you’ve become accustomed to major characters getting killed off and you don’t trust any new people; Kirkman plays off this fear to build tension and redirect your gaze. Before the final four pages of the issue, you might want to tear up the book in frustration. But hold on for the final reveal, where Kirkman lays significant seeds of doubt about the Commonwealths intentions; it had me crawling over each panel looking for clues.
Charlie Adlard’s character designs for the Commonwealth work well as they are a drastic departure from Michonne’s group of riffraff. Adlard also builds the emotional weight in each panel with Michonne’s eyes meeting the eyes of others. Back-and-forth conversations are entrancing, and the black and white coloring helps to keep your attention on the story at hand. Color would take away from the emotional impact; the lack of color simplifies your thought process in all the right ways.
Kirkman knows how to pace a comic book series, and 176 is a perfect second issue of a six-part arc. He answers the primary question from part one and adds additional questions to pore over moving forward. Part three should introduce the conflict, and then we are off and running with the two-part finale.
About THE WALKING DEAD #176:
Story: Robert Kirkman
Art: Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, Cliff Rathburn
Cover: Charlie Adlard, Dave Stewart
“NEW WORLD ORDER,” Part Two An audience with a different kind of Governor.
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