The Walking Dead Volume 32: Rest in Peace

The Walking Dead Volume 32: Rest in Peace
The Walking Dead 32 Rest in Peace review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Image Comics/Skybound - 978-1-53431-241-8
  • Volume No.: 32
  • Release date: 2019
  • Format: Black and white
  • UPC: 9781534312418
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Drama, Horror

After 31 previous volumes and fifteen years of Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard collaborating, in 2019 Rest in Peace provided the final Walking Dead graphic novel. The title, therefore, can be taken as valedictory or ominous. This is The Walking Dead. There are going to be casualties.

In The Rotten Core tensions about the way the Commonwealth is run spilled over into tragedy, and appear to have driven an irreconcilable wedge between Rick Grimes and Michonne. However, what Kirkman shows is that an idea isn’t as easily killed as a person. “There was no alternative until we showed up”, assesses Rick, “That’s what’s accelerating things”. He’s right, and it’s a clever observation and a clever piece of plotting, although that’s among so many. Have we highlighted enough how good Kirkman is with a cliffhanger ending? There’s no shortchanging buyers of the serialised comic as every chapter works toward a good ending. It’s not always a shock, although a lot of the time it is, yet sometimes it’s a thought provoking moment, or a moment of great joy, and Kirkman is so accomplished that it’s never obvious, although in hindsight so efficiently set up.

Because comics are read, Adlard’s art is possibly under-appreciated. In short, he draws absolutely everything the series needs, and draws it well. The Walking Dead reads so smoothly because there’s never any trouble following what’s happening, nor telling one significant cast member from another, while the pages look good, there’s an emotional subtlety and the designs work. There’s never a place where a reader is distracted by faulty perspective or a strangely composed human, and when a statement is needed, as per the sample spread, it’s imposing and definitive. A bonus is that Adlard’s been really impressive when it comes to ageing long-running cast members, something that comes into focus here with Carl Grimes.

Does Rest in Peace supply everything that’s wanted from the conclusion to a long-running series? Yes. Kirkman’s had the twisting drama sorted from almost the very start, and that’s essential here in leading an audience into believing there’s only the single path, then veering off somewhere else instead. Rick has been the central character from the start, perhaps never really understanding how inspirational he can be, and he delivers one hell of a speech to which the sample spread is only a punctuation point. Barring the cliffhangers, he’s central to almost every moment of high drama. Will Kirkman reward the long service sentimentally by letting Rick see the series out, or will he go for the higher drama?

An extended final chapter leaps forward, and while it serves the purpose of catching up on cast members and how things have progressed overall, it’s also about the bonds formed in precarious times with death just around the corner. Extended from that is what it’s like to realise your time has passed when the world a generation fought for has moved on. It resembles the final days of the old West, and as such it’s as sad as any time a beloved character bit the dust. It’s an optimistic ending, not the bleak road that could equally have been taken, yet tears may be shed.

The Walking Dead Book Sixteen runs this material along with The Rotten Core in hardcover, while it also ends the fourth Walking Dead Compendium wrapping up the series.