Category Archives: russ wooton

Review – The Walking Dead #104 (Image / Skybound, 2012)

The cover is a fair indication of some of the contents this time, which is split into several plots that flit around nicely. There is so much going on at the moment, and it is all very very positive. This is without a doubt shaping up to be a great run, with the action and plotting in this issue an indication of how far things have come over the last few months. The arrival of Negan and the Saviors has really got this title fired up.

For a summary of the latest issue, go here;

From here on in, it is SPOILERS, so you have been warned….

Random thoughts on issue 104

1) Carl is the major focus in this issue, and it is handled really well. His stowing away in Negan’s convoy is completely in character – impetuous, brave – and his arrival at the Saviors base is explosive and, again, believable. The kid has the guts but his limitations are also apparent. The outcome was not what he planned, and now Carl is a ‘guest’ of Negan, so what happens next is going to be fascinating. His actions in issue 104 are going to have major ramifications for the near future. I cannot wait to see how Kirkman plays this one.

2) Negan is fascinated by Carl and Negan (no doubt) knows the possibilities he has to use Carl in his favour. My feeling is Negan will try to win Carl over, while having him as a devastating weapon / hostage/ bargaining  tool against Rick.

3) And with his son hostage, Rick’s reaction is likely to be swift and brutal. The long game that Rick planned against Negan is most likely going to be forgotten now. That cover to issue 106 could well be indicating a rescue operation.

4) Which leads me onto the Saviors HQ, aka ‘The Sanctuary’, which had an imposing building reminiscent of a power station. It also had the zombie barrier / zombie scarecrow defence that Crawford has in the latest episode of The Walking Dead Game (Episode 4 ‘Around Every Corner’). It was a suitably imposing first look at the base camp of the enemy. Great work from Charlie Adlard on that.

5) There was more of Dwight this issue, and more Negan, and when they shared some time together, it was apparent that there is no love lost between the 2, which came as a (nice) surprise. Dwight is a character that I think could play a major part in the downfall of Negan. There is a comment that Negan makes about having ‘ample time to throw the wood in at least a couple of wives’. This rather repulsive comment is further fuel to the fire as far as Dwight is concerned, as the look on his face is one of complete contempt toward Negan. Why? There is more to this to be discovered. The comment also serves to further highlight how much of a dick Negan is. It is going to be really great when he finally gets payback. He is a bully, a braggard and, although he has intelligence, he has a loathsome character. Kirkman knows how to push the buttons to get the readers reaction on Negan. As I said in a previous review, he is so pantomime its ridiculous. And I mean that in a good way.

6) Jesus! He is so cool. He is the sharper, deadlier Abraham (R.I.P). Long may he live and prosper. And I seriously doubt he is a Savior now. Don’t kill him off please!

7) ‘I’ve seen the weapons you use. I know you don’t have a lot of guns’ is such a fantastic line from Carl. Is it also an indication that The Saviors are not as well equipped as we assume?

8) ‘Think we’ll get one of these mattresses?’
‘I fucking hope so, but who knows what we’ll have to do to earn one’
This small exchange between 2 of the Saviors suggests that, alongside the ‘wives’ comment, Negan treats all those within the Sanctuart as servants and playthings. A post apocalyptic Feudal Lord, with a sense of outrageous entitlement and a very dirty mouth.

9) Alexandria appears to be a fragmented, divided place now, with mutiny a possibility.

10) Did I tell you how good this issue was? It’s a 9.5 out of 10. The best one of the year, and the best one of last year as well.

Review – The Walking Dead #102 (Image / Skybound, 2012)

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.

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.

Solicitation for The Walking Dead 97 (Image/Skybound, 2012)

Written by Robert Kirkman, art and cover by Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn.
Two issues in one month! The start of a new storyline, leading up to our monumental issue 100! After nearly 100 issues, Rick and the other survivors finally have “Something to Fear.”
32 pages, black and white, $2.99, in stores on May 9. 

Review – The Walking Dead #92 (image, 2011)

Needless to say – SPOILERS!!!

The ‘letter hacks’ pages have a comment from Sina Grace (Editor) noting that there were 12 issues shipped in 2011, which I believe is testament to Adlard and Rathburn’s professionalism and dedication. Kirkman managed to get 12 issues of story out but sometimes (especially in the middle of the year) it felt stretched a bit thin, meandering, nothing to really move the story along.

It’s good to see that the final issue of the year comes good, with some sharp dialogue, some movement in the story, and some action – both against undead and living.
This issue marks the build up to the ‘larger world’ storyline that is due to kick off in the next few issues, and is probably initiating something that will roll into the landmark issue 100.
So what was good about this issue? In order;
The Abraham / Michonne team-up.
The fact that Abraham & Michonne got some decent scenes – they have been sidelined too long.
Some decent action sequences, well realised by Adlard and Rathburn.
The dialogue – snappy, sometimes funny, but it was always to the point and gave the issue purpose.
Less Rick, less Carl, less monologues.
An interesting new character introduced, with a great nickname.
A fantastic cover – one of the best yet.
Issue #92 ends the year in fine style, and sets up 2012 in a good way. I am more excited now about this series than I have been for months.