We have reached a point in The Walking Dead where Rick’s decisions are leading the main cast of characters into uncharted territory. If the turning point for these people was ‘Fear The Hunters’, where they turned the tables on a group of Survivalists with a taste for Human flesh, then the journey from survivors to aggressors is now complete. In ‘Something to Fear’, they meet force with force. In a quick and brutal mid-section, issue #97 is a game-changer. After confronting and eliminating a small group of ‘Negan’ foot-soldiers, there is no way back from a confrontation, unless ‘Negan’ acquiesces to the demands Rick is setting out. Rick has been through so much, and at this point in the story he is a man desperate; desperate for hope, desperate to keep his son and by extension those he keeps closest to him alive. He is desperate for the working relationship with the Hilltop Community, which will probably guarantee some measure of safety and comfort for his own community. He is desperate enough to take on the unknown threat of Negan. But a desperate man can make bad decisions, and this issue seems to pulse with the threat of violence and death.
And then there is Eugene.
Eugene, largely forgotten over the last couple of years, comes back into focus, teasing and cajoling Abraham into a mission outside of the walled community, for ammunition supplies. You get the sense there is more to this. Is the real motive to get Abraham away from the safety of the community? And to what ends? It is clear Eugene has feelings for Rosita that are not reciprocated, and the weight of her past relationship with Abraham is maybe too much of a burden for Eugene. By the end of the issue, there is probably a lot more for Eugene to worry about, in a great cliffhanger, promising some unpleasant consequences in issue 98.
One throwaway moment towards the end was the appearance of a zombie in advanced stages of decay. I am sure this will be revisited in the future, but what is its significance? An indication that the undead do eventually decay to the point that there threat is negated? That the undead do have a limited ‘life’ span?
Lots of action, some plot development (Maggie pregnant – probably not a good portent for her or Glenn), and a fantastic cliffhanger. Some great splash pages from Adlard, although some of the smaller panels felt rushed (but considering the time constraints he is working under, his consistency is amazing). All in all, this is The Walking Dead back to its best. ‘Something to Fear’ is promising to be a real event. I really hope its promise is fulfilled.