For a final arc episode, #102 is low-key, with much of the pages taken up with Kirkman manoeuvring plot pieces into place (something I feel he is pretty good at. He sows the seeds and then walks away for a few issues before returning on some occasions. It shows he has a regard for his audience, that they can pick up plot points from weeks before). This time, we have the return of Eugene and his bullet manufacturing proposition, the sense of guilt felt by Rick & Michonne, Andrea’s anger at Ricks current position regarding Negan, the role of ‘Jesus’ in Ricks planning for the future.
And Carl. Carl, the product of the apocalypse. Carl, who now swears in front of his Father, who actively discusses planning and strategy. Whose answer to any threat is simple. He wants to shoot at it until it goes away. I get the feeling that Kirkman is moving Carl further forward, right to the forefront. Carl is decisive, Rick is hesitant. Carl wants to kill, Rick wants to bide his time. Already we have seen the divide between Father & Son, and Kirkman keeps opening it up a little more.
What feels like a mid-Trade issue actually says a lot more about the current direction of The Walking Dead. It is open to all possibilities, and in the meantime we get a closer examination of some of our favourite characters, that feels fresh and purposeful (I really liked the piece about Michonne and her image of herself as a ‘weapon’ for the group). And Negan fans – hate to have to disappoint you, but there is no sign of the Big Man. Which means that Negan is probably going to be around for a while, as Rick plans for the long haul. Biding his time. But is Jesus really such a good ally to have? I guess that is going to be answered one way or another in the next few issues.
Issue #102. Solid entertainment, without being spectacular. The Walking Dead is in fine form without being amazing, but that’s okay. The title is in much better shape than this time last year, or 6 months ago. I am a happy reader.