Category Archives: image comics

Review – The Walking Dead 113 (image / Skybound, 2013)

Needless to say, this review contains spoilers for issue 113…

Though it is not something I have covered on this blog, if you are a fan / follower of The Walking Dead comic book then you will no doubt be aware of another ‘event; coming up in a matter of weeks. Maybe event fatigue has set in, maybe this title does not generate the same excitement in me as before, but, for whatever reason, I have not made mention of ‘All Out War’ until now. The event title is self-explanatory, so I do not need to go into any great detail. Go and google it and you will get the teaser images, the cover art (new artist doing covers alert!) and the teaser interviews by Kirkman. The lead-up to these things can be the very best thing about The Walking Dead (and I am thinking of the Prison siege way back in 2007/2008), and so it proves with issue 113. In a series of increasingly tense scenes, there is now no way back for the Negan and Rick-led groups. War looks inevitable in The Walking Dead (and not just because we are being told that in the media).

Issue 113 kicks off with Jesus/Paul & Aaron heading out on their mission toward the Savior outpost. If you remember, this was the one that Dwight told Ezekiel of. Very quickly we learn that this has somehow not worked well, as Jesus stares in horror or disbelief and exclaims ‘oh damn’. Has Dwight, or Ezekiel, proved to be working against Rick?

We then cut away to the brutal and brilliant focal point for this month. After the failed attack on The Saviors, Negan wants his revenge. Things escalate very quickly, and the relationships between the core characters come to the fore – Rick and Negan, Rick and Carl, Negan and Carl, Andrea and Rick. What is interesting is that it’s Carl and Andrea, at different times, trying to protect Rick, a reversal of the usual dynamic. Andreas insistence that ‘we don’t die’ is (maybe) a foreshadowing of something dreadful to come later, but for now, her intent and desperation are all too obvious. Carl, meanwhile, is fearless and deadly, almost killing Negan, and doing something far worse to the resident bad guy in the process. By the end of the issue we are at a familiar junction – Negan, with Lucille in hand, preparing to use his tried and trusted method of dispatch. It is a fantastic cliffhanger, with Rick in the firing line, but with Carl and Andrea still a threat to the leader of The Saviors. And we may yet have the cavalry appear in the form of Jesus and Aaron. It is breathless stuff, I found myself turning to pages at a furious pace, the fantastic layout and art from Charlie Adlard propelling the action. It gives a good reminder of how great this artist is at fight and battle scenes, as you get the sense of pace, the smell of fear and desperation, the struggle.

A top notch issue, a reminder why this title, when on its best form, is peerless.

A couple of points;

There surely has to be a point during the ‘All Out War’ event where either Rick or Negan die. They cannot keep dancing around like boxers squaring each other up and one of them NOT land the knockout punch. Negan is an entertaining villain (and I would say the most entertaining presence in issue 113), but it is getting close to the point that his potency as the man you love to hate is lost because of too much familiarity. I just hope there is a suitable and satisfying conclusion to this, because 12 issues of ‘All Out War’ spread over 6 months is a long time (or ample time if you are feeling generous) to tell a tale.

There is a physical attack on Andrea that seems unnecessarily brutal and lasts too long. Or should I say, lingers too long on her beating and physical distress. It seemed gratuitous. I understand it was important to show her peril and the outcome of that, but the depiction of the violence was a bit too much.

Finally, I expect (or rather, hope) that we shall see the body count increase next issue – it teased and teased imminent death in #113 that if we don’t get some pay off next month then this issue will have felt like a prelude to an empty promise. Some deaths need to occur to bring matters to a head, and the inevitable violent resolution to all this.

Review – The Walking Dead #111 (image/skybound, 2013)

The one where the cover does not lie;


A nippy episode this one, with the ‘rebel alliance’ having ones of its better days, as the Jesus – Ezekiel – Rick axis comes to together as a (seemingly) formidable whole, with an army of around 70. They even have a plan of attack – to take out Negan’s outposts first – that sounds credible. AND they still have Dwight as their inside man. At this point, you may feel it would be appropriate to shout ‘ GO TEAM GRIMES’ but I ain’t American. Being British by birth, I feel at this juncture, it is a good time to tell Rick and allies ‘jolly well done’. But the good feeling cannot last. The second part of this issue is dedicated to Negan.

Having turned up at Rick’s a little early for the supply / tribute collection, he wastes no time making himself at home, which is a polite way of saying within 5 minutes he is acting like a humongous TWAT. After propositioning Olivia (Negan Style) he then decides that the Community vibe in the community is just right for him, especially as there is a pool table. A little insight there. Negan probably spent a lot of time around pool tables pre-apocalypse, probably in bars. That’s as much character insight as we are probably going to get with him, so drink it in, readers.

Then he meets Spencer. Spencer cannot wait to tell Negan all about Rick, about his ego, about how he generally ruins everything and everyone. Remember that Spencer is a spurned lover, seeing Andrea with Rick is driving him crazy, and this is the moment, after several single-panel hints over several episodes that let you know that he was going to do something about it. And he does. He seizes the moment. But, you know, it is Spencer. The guy just cannot seem to catch a break. The result is that cover you see above.

One other thing worthy of mention – Gregory. We keep getting told he is an idiot, useless and a bit of a pervert. Is he going to be the weak link that destroys the nascent rebellion?

Plus – solid art from Adlard (as ever).

Finally – this episode was pretty good. TWD has found it’s feet again. Thank goodness.

Review – The Walking Dead #105 (Image / Skybound, 2012)

Capping what has been a fascinating and rewarding year to be a Walking Dead fan (what with the excellent Telltale Games series, and some very good TV episodes), issue 105 is further proof that Negan is here for the long run, Carl is moving more centre stage, and Rick? No Rick to be seen.

What we get is an exploration of the Saviors, the Sanctuary and Negans rule. To call him ‘hard but fair’ would be an understatement, as he is a conundrum. His methods of punishment can be cruel, barbaric, yet he also strives to look after his subjects. They respond with almost complete loyalty, but again Kirkman shows that Dwight may well be the weak link, one way of Rick being able to strike back at Negan. We learn that Negan took Dwights wife/partner into his own harem, and when she cheated on Negan, with Dwight, the punishment was the dis-figuration of Dwight.

Negans treatment of Carl is fascinating. The issue explores their growing relationship, and with Carl scared and vulnerable, Negan probes for information. On 2 occasions Negan inadvertently reduces Carl to tears, by forcing him to remove his eye bandage, and by singing a song and recalling his mother? More disturbing was the images of Negan swinging Lucille during Carls rendition of ‘You are my Sunshine’. Was that another scare tactic? Was all of it a way of breaking Carl down?

A slower paced issue. But there was more than enough talking points. Next time, Dad comes looking for Carl. Looks like it could be the perfect start to 2013.

Review – The Walking Dead #98 (image/skybound, 2012)

SPOILERS. Please do not read if you are not up to date with the single issues, specifically, if you haven’t read Walking Dead #98, and you do not want it spoiled, then do not go any further.

We approach #100 rapidly, what with the 3 week release schedule, and the pace really picking up. Issue 98 absolutely whizzes by, with a momentum that is gripping and a reading time of mere minutes. But there is an event within the first few pages that is truly shocking and relatively unexpected. Yes, its MAJOR CHARACTER DEATH TIME in The Walking Dead. It’s one of those story arcs. This one, I got to admit. I would not have predicted. Notice I am not saying his name. I would not have predicted its (ahem) execution, which is done with a black humour and a certain amount of sadness. But more importantly, I really did not want this character to die. I will not say his name. He was probably the only one with any humour and vitality, and anything approaching a personality, while the rest of the characters either got locked into soap opera dialogue or were reduced to snarling dogs. I cannot say his name. IT’S A WASTE OF A BLOODY GOOD CHARACTER.
While there is no doubt that the latest arc is threatening to match the body count (and death = excitement, right?) of The Woodbury Prison siege all those years ago, this latest issue is still hard to swallow, where it feels that Kirkman is simply tossing away a great character, with lots of untapped potential, for the sake of shock value. I am not sure how ‘Letter Hacks’ is going to read in a couple of issues time when the reaction to #98 most likely gets published, but I get a sense that this issue will be a polariser. For me, this was a needless death. Shame. Shame!
When Kirkman didn’t give Carl the death that we all anticipated, it felt like a mistake, a bad piece of sensationalism with an outcome that made no sense (I know, we are talking comics here, but still, even by this logic where the dead roam the Earth – Carl should be dead). With this latest twist in the tale, it just feels like a cheap shot. He didn’t deserve to go just yet. I doubt many readers were tired of him. And in the final panel, you see Rick – lost and unsure of his next move. Well, that may be mirroring the emotions of reader reactions to #98. Still, I will be there next time. 
In tribute

Review – The Walking Dead #97 (Image / Skybound, 2012)

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.

Review – Walking Dead #77 (Image 2010)

The cover is a bit strange, and having read the issue through. I do not really see how it relates to what is going on in the ‘safe zone’, but apart from that, this issue is ON FIRE. It is absolutely brilliant, from Rick’s initial confrontation with Carl (see the 7 page preview post from a couple of days back on TWLB), through to a budding romance between Andrea and Spencer, the death of Scott, and the storm-is-approaching that is Peter Anderson. It is the last 2 of these events, that meet head-on in a believable, explosive confrontation, that provides the fuel for an amazing finale. I will not spoil it, because to read it is to appreciate the bloody genius of Kirkman, Adlard and Rathburn (but especially Kirkman’s knack of producing tremendous final pages in TWD). So, as I often say, go read it. I will say though, that a chain of events have been brilliantly constructed, with plot threads being pulled in from over the last few issues, and they are conspiring to create the perfect storm. That perfect storm is called ‘No Way Out’ and we are 2 more issues away from when it all kicks off at #80.

Mild spoilers;

3 deaths in this issue. But that is probably just the start of it (re: ‘No Way Out’)

Rick is a set in stone, cold-eyed killer, his descent into a world where there is only black and white is pretty much complete. His single-minded determination to keep surviving is now just ruthless.

Douglas’ relationship with Rick is fascinating. I wonder – Is his political past serving him well in manipulating Rick to do is dirty work?

The last page is pure Adlard greatness, with an ensemble poised for action. We even get to see a zombie attacked! Hurrah!

Finally, there is a wonderful opening letter in ‘Letter Hacks’, that brought a tear to my eye. it may well do the same to you. No shame in that.

Cannot wait for issue 78!

Upcoming….’No Way Out’ – The Walking Dead arc that begins from issue 80 (2010 / 2011)

Looks likely that that community spirit will be going down with that wall. It’s a potential clear out of Walking Dead cast members! It’s another ‘No-one is Safe’! It even has ‘No’ in the tagline! Let’s hope it lives up to the hype better than ‘Fear the Hunters’!

Does it excite me? Of course!

And that’s all the exclamation marks I have for this week, used up in one post.

Review – The Walking Dead #73 (Image, 2010)

Game of two halves – the first half continuing with Rick & Glenn’s subterfuge, amongst a few interesting plot threads being drawn out -including….. a love interest for Andrea? Some of it is a bit soap-opera (and maybe neccesarily so – Kirkman drawing us into this false sense of Suburbia?) and, apart from the Rick and Glenn shenanigans, it merely meanders. The second half is something else though, and it’s time for our cover star, Sgt Abraham Ford, to shine. Caught in a desperate situation involving a supply run and a zombie ambush, it is balls to the floor FUN. Whoever gets to play him in the AMC show is going to have to brush up on his Stallone / Willis / Statham attitude. Sgt Ford ROCKS in that American Action Hero way – and Kirkman uses that side to Abraham sparingly, so when he does get to strut his stuff, it just puts a big smile on your face.

If I may, I want to return briefly back to Rick, and a telling comment he makes to Glen as they plot to distribute their ‘insurance policy’ to ‘their people’;

“…if there’s ever a situation where people start taking sides we can’t assume all our people will stay loyal…”

just shows what a few years in that world has done to that man. Trust no-one. Especially Rick Grimes.

Oh……..Art seemed a little bit below par this month though – some of the faces seemed to be melting – or was that the brown acid I took? *

And was #73 of The Walking Dead any good? Yes it was, absorbing without being outstanding, gripping without being melodramatic. It just did it’s thing.

* I didn’t take any brown acid during the production of this post. It was mescaline.

Review – The Walking Dead #72 (Image, 2010)

Warning – spoilers!

I cannot shake the feeling that right now comics do not seem as vibrant or as necessary to me as a couple of years ago. The only titles I anticipate now are Sweet Tooth, The Boys, Unknown Soldier and Walking Dead. And, over the last few weeks, irritated by the delays for #71, I had begun to get a little ‘anti’ about The Walking Dead as well. Could I possibly be falling out with the title that got me back into comics over 3 years ago?

What nonsense. Issue 72 is of the usual high standard – so if you know anything about The Walking Dead, you will get much of the same excellent writing and brilliant art. For me, this month I found the art excelled, and the writing at times a little too cloying, though to underestimate Kirkman is more than foolish – he always has the ace up his sleeve.

Our protagonists are having varying degrees of success ‘fitting in’ to the new sanctuary / suburban hell / salvation. For some it is a chance to try and put the past behind them (a superb montage of past incidents in the life of one of the characters is rendered brilliantly by Adlard), and for others, it seems, it is a chance to go back to doing what they do best (and for Glenn, the upshot of this is a bit of a domestic with Maggie).

Rick seems quite at home in his new surroundings, and although his Mr Reasonable persona was beginning to grate, with a string of Mr Nice Guy words of wisdom and platitudes unspooling throughout this issue, don’t be fooled. Rick is a bastard. Rick is a bastard and although he is playing the good guy, that is all he is doing. Playing a game. Rick is out for himself and his son, and whoever else he has feeling for and is useful / necessary to him to enable Rick Grimes to survive alongside his son. If you were in any doubt that this new scenario, on the outskirts of DC, is going to end in tears, take a look at Rick on the last page. Devious bastard.

But one more thing – Charlie Adlard. His art is so good you have to look at it at least twice to get all the nuances. Check out the panels where Rick speaks to Douglas as he prepares to leave the party with Carl and Sophia. And check Sophia’s reaction to Douglas. Absolutely magnificent.

Oh, and thanks for getting an issue out in May, Mr Kirkman.

Review – The Walking Dead #71 (Image, 2010)

Finally here – about 6 weeks late (Kirkman even kicks off his ‘Letter Hacks’ with an apology). Was it worth the wait? Of course it was, though I doubt anyone was expecting fireworks in this issue, and in that sense, this issue did not disappoint. A low-key introduction to the new community that Rick & co have arrived into, some rules and boundaries are set, and adjusting to the new life is shown with wonderful clarity by the ever talented Charlie Adlard (just little details in the panels, like Carl & Sophia interacting – it’s touching and wonderful).

And then there is the fear, suspicion and uncertainty on both sides. Which side has the most to fear, and the most to lose? Kirkman clearly sets this out as a big question in this issue, and that theme runs the whole duration of #71, until the final full page panel, when someone says something that spins the direction of this arc in a direction that should really challenge your perceptions on some of the characters in this drama.

An issue to read at least a couple of times – many threads are being developed here that are going to run their course in this arc and beyond. It also boasts one of the best covers of this fine series.

Worth waiting for – but if we get issue #72 within 4 weeks I will be very, very happy.