Needless to say this is a review of issue 101, so if you haven’t read it, or issue 100, or the issues before that, or the trades, then do not read, as there are spoilers from here on in.
Issue 100 was, on reflection, and with a few weeks between now and the initial hype and excitement, probably as good as The Walking Dead could be for its anniversary issue. It was a game changer, in the sense that we had Rick, previously built up as the Conqueror, suddenly becoming the Vanquished. Humbled, and with the very real threat of death hanging not over him, but those who he has strived to protect, Rick is no longer the Alpha Male that he was in issue #99. But he does not give the impression of being entirely beaten. As the issue progresses, you still get the sense that this is a man who could regain control of the situation.
The manner of death of Glenn was shocking and emotionally charged, and the immediate fallout of that is dealt with in the first few pages. It is dealt with in a believable way, but the resolution, with both Carl and Sophia acting in threatening and violent ways to end the situation, merely illustrates again the broken and violent children that are being raised in this new world. No doubt prepared for a future with little hope, Carl has developed an instinct over the past couple of years to answer questions with the barrel of a gun. It is, however, a new development to see Sophia react so savagely to the threat of death, but depressingly inevitable, as she has gone through unimaginable loss and has been witness to a lot of it. This is one of Kirkman’s strengths, just dropping in subtle (and not so subtle) shifts of character in an explosive (but blink and you miss them) short sequence of panels. It works really well here, and it was one of the highlights of this issue. As Maggie makes the decision to remain with Sophia at the Hilltop Colony, maybe this is Kirkman’s way of showing the readers that Sophia could be following a parallel path to Carl, becoming as damaged and dangerous as he undoubtedly is.
We still had the small matter of the community that Rick had left behind. In issue 100 they were a mere footnote, and you could have assumed that issue 101 would have told that story. The assumption would have been that the forces of Negan would have attacked Andrea and the others left behind, literally holding the fort. You may have expected another Governor-style attack on the compound, much like the Prison siege. You may have expected Kirkman to top issue 100 with more violence and death. But he doesn’t, and in a great ‘didn’t see that coming’ moment, all we get to see is the aftermath of the attack. The news is better than expected as well, with Andrea and co. having repelled the attack, and for bonus points, on the last page cliffhanger, they have got a hostage. The clue is on the cover, as they have the Two-Face lookalike Dwight, looking a bit forlorn. Poor Dwight – first he gets his crotch bitten by Eugene until the blood starts seeping through his jeans, then he ends up tied up to a chair at the mercy of Rick, Michonne and Andrea.
I feel quite sorry for him. And I think I see a pool of blood collecting round one of his feet. Didn’t he get that bite seen to? Ouch.
Minor point #1 – Jesus / Paul decides its best to accompany Rick and the rest back to Alexandria. I wonder if this is part of Negans plan. Is Jesus / Paul working for Negan? Or is he going to be a very useful ally in the fightback against Negan? Because there is no doubt that someone is going to be initiating the fightback against Negan. It may not be Rick, but one of those main characters is going to be taking matters further.
And finally…. Some great art from Adlard in #101. Loved the aftermath of the Saviors attack on the Alexandria Safe Zone, and the departure of Negan and his army in the first few panels of the issue. Great stuff.