Review – The Walking Dead #100 (Image / Skybound, 2012)

“Issue #100 is going to easily be the most gruesome, most violent, disturbing issue of “The Walking Dead” yet”  Robert Kirkman

At last.

After a few weeks of feverish hype and speculation, and expectations that issue 100 was going to be a comicbook revelation only matched by the release of The Bible, watching the Brazilian football team of 1970 or the invention of Ice Cream, issue #100 of The Walking Dead is here.

Hyperbole sells. Kirkman, a comic creator-owner, knows too well that fact. He has to put food on the table. He gives his (probably) best-written and (undeniably) most popular property the hype it deserves. And it has worked, with the nultiple variant covers of #100 expected to propel it past six-figure sales. Now, I am no hardcore comic-fan, but I understand enough to know that six figure comicbook sales are not to be sniffed at. Kirkman and co. have done their job, the issue is a success regardless of the content. Its staggering, and also quite wonderful, that the creative team of such a fine comic are in this position. I am sure not all of them could have imagined they would be in such a position of strength 3 or 4 years ago.

So, regardless of the content, #100 is an absolute success, no doubt. The ‘Something to Fear’ arc has had its moments of shock and surprise, and after the low-key #99, hopes are high that #100 is going to produce something suitably mind-blowing to mark an important milestone in the titles history.

We have had the teasers;

We have had the drip feed of the multitude of covers (my favourite is the Frank Quitely one, bottom centre);

but now, inevitably, we have to move away from the excitement and the anticipation, and actually read the comic. It’s 40 pages! Almost a DOUBLE SIZED ISSUE, as they used to proclaim on the front covers of comics in the distant past. Does 40 pages mean double the carnage? Double the mind-blowingness? Double the Charlie Adlard splash pages? Well, the answer to one of those questions is a yes. There are some big pictures from Mr Adlard.

But is it any good?

I think the important thing to bear in mind, to offset the inevitable disappointment (yes, sorry, it will disappoint to some degree to some people), is that issue 100 could never live up to the hype. How many deaths did you expect? 3? 4? 10? I predicted (yesterday) that there would be 4. Glenn, Maggie, Sophia and Heath. That high body count does not come to pass. That may occur in issue 101 or 102 (we are still only at part 4 of 6 of ‘Something to Fear’). In this issue we only get 1 death. But don’t worry!Its a horrible death! A horrible death of an established character! But in terms of ‘game changing’, forget it. The Walking Dead has a hierarchy, and the status quo remains. There are no cash cows killed off to celebrate the centenary.

But is it any good??

I think so, overall. I didn’t really feel the extra pages, to be honest it read just like a standard size issue. The plot is straightforward, and goes like this (SPOILERS) – our survivors do not make it to Hilltop before nightfall, so they decide to stop, and that is when Negan and The Saviours turn up. Negan is quite intriguing, as he has the confidence and swagger of Leadership and the knowledge he has absolute power, but he also retains an intelligence to ensure he retains and builds his power base. However, he swears way too much. If swearing that much is a shorthand way of saying to the audience ‘Look how tough this guy is! He can put 3 ‘fucks’ in the same sentence motherfucker!’, then its just lazy. We get the idea – Negan is a bad-ass. He is surrounded by a huge contingent of bad-ass bikers and Mad Max 2 extras. We do not doubt his bad-assness. The swearing overload just makes him sound like a bit of a twat, and detracts from what is otherwise a solid introduction for the new villain of the piece (if you don’t include Rick and Carl). You believe that he commands respect and fear, and you believe he can control so many men (and there are loads and loads of them – check out the double page spread from Charlie Adlard!)

The rest of the issue is teaching Rick a lesson. Its a bloody hard lesson to take in. So when Kirkman gave us that quote (see top of the page), he was right. Issue #100 is gruesome, and disturbing, The murder scene is particularly unpleasant, almost pornographic in its imagery. The death scenes are also upsetting because of the emotion displayed from the characters, including the one who is dying. I found it powerful and upsetting.

Issue 100 will not live up to the hype and expectation for many, because what The Walking Dead does is let you believe that anything is possible. That is not strictly true, because Kirkman, for all his posturing that ‘no-one is safe’, knows exactly what side his bread his buttered on. That is to say, where this title is concerned, he takes a safety first approach to character mortality. Or to put it another way, imagine the most surprising death in issue 100. It doesn’t happen.

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