This review contains SPOILERS. Events in issue 122 are described in this post.
Only 4 issues to go until the end of ‘All Out War’. Never having fought in a war myself, I can only speculate, but reading this series of comics over the last few weeks is what I imagine it’s like when both sides are waiting to see who blinks first. A war of attrition, in other words. It’s been exhausting, waiting for things to really kick off. We are not there yet, but maybe in this issue the plot points are moved into position for the final battle. With 4 issues to go, and the rather drawn-out (languid would be a wrong word to use, but it almost feels that way) pace so far, I can only assume that what Negan has in mind with his ‘space-aged zombie bacteria’ weapons is the beginning of the endgame.
But let us take a step back from Negan, because being around him for more than a page is pretty exhausting in its own right, and besides, the big lug with the potty-mouth is only one of a cast of…tens in this issue, as it skitters from (deep breath…) Eugene & Dwight (plus an eavesdropper, Carson the Savior), to Maggie & Brianna, Rick & Andrea, Heath & Dr. Carson (not Carson the Savior but Dr. Carson), Rosita and Olivia, Ezekiel & Michonne and Jesus & ‘Alex’. Oh, and Rick and Earl Sutton, who is going to fashion ‘the Leader’ some sort of replacement hand in return for Rick making him a pack-up for lunch everyday. Maybe something with a Swiss Army-style arrangement of kitchen utensils affixed to the stump?
As illustrated above, there is a lot of character interaction packed in in issue 122. How much of it moved the story on in its ‘All Out War’ context is debatable. So we know that Heath has a bigger stump to trump Rick now (of which more later) and that Dr.Cloyd did a damn good job of saving Heath’s life (but not his leg) before succumbing to her injuries. We also now know that Paul Monroe aka Jesus may be in a relationship, and that he is Gay or Bisexual. And that Rosita’s conversation with Olivia did absolutely nothing to advance the story, other than remind us of 2 things; (1) – that Eugene is in the hands of Negan (which was established at the start), and (2) – that despite being in the comic series for over 5 years and 4 years respectively, I have no idea who Rosita or Olivia are, and have little connection with them.
Field Marshall Rick, now with everyone back at Hilltop (as Maggie has brought the Ezekiels survivors back into the fold) has a plan to have non-combatants and some fighters moved out to a ‘staging ground’. This would serve as an evacuation point if and when the shit hits the fan at Hilltop. But he needs at least a day to get that sorted. Cut to Negan and his biological weapons overlooking the Hilltop….’We attack at Sundown’….
In summary, the Negan biological weapons shenanigans are great. The final pages where Rick has clearly run out of time is also good stuff, really setting up the battle ahead. The rest — is all a bit…pfft. This arc needs to start showing the needless slaughter and devastation (and ACTION!!!) of combat and war to earn its hype. As it stands, we are two thirds of the way through this, and something special needs to happen in the last third to justify a 12 issue arc to tell a 6 issue story.
Why did they place Heath on the cover in full on straddling mode when he lost one of those legs a couple of issues back?
Still on the subject of covers, it is good to see that the current ‘cinematic’ (or even ‘pen and pixel’) inspired covers for this arc will be replaced by the more traditional cover format from issue 127 onwards. Here is the first one of that new batch, and it is a beauty from Charlie Adlard and a reminder why The Walking Dead has some of the last 10 years best comic cover art;