Category Archives: something to fear

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 #101 (image / skybound, 2012)

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.

Review – The Walking Dead #100 (Image / Skybound, 2012)

“Issue #100 is going to easily be the most gruesome, most violent, disturbing issue of “The Walking Dead” yet”  Robert Kirkman

At last.

After a few weeks of feverish hype and speculation, and expectations that issue 100 was going to be a comicbook revelation only matched by the release of The Bible, watching the Brazilian football team of 1970 or the invention of Ice Cream, issue #100 of The Walking Dead is here.

Hyperbole sells. Kirkman, a comic creator-owner, knows too well that fact. He has to put food on the table. He gives his (probably) best-written and (undeniably) most popular property the hype it deserves. And it has worked, with the nultiple variant covers of #100 expected to propel it past six-figure sales. Now, I am no hardcore comic-fan, but I understand enough to know that six figure comicbook sales are not to be sniffed at. Kirkman and co. have done their job, the issue is a success regardless of the content. Its staggering, and also quite wonderful, that the creative team of such a fine comic are in this position. I am sure not all of them could have imagined they would be in such a position of strength 3 or 4 years ago.

So, regardless of the content, #100 is an absolute success, no doubt. The ‘Something to Fear’ arc has had its moments of shock and surprise, and after the low-key #99, hopes are high that #100 is going to produce something suitably mind-blowing to mark an important milestone in the titles history.

We have had the teasers;

We have had the drip feed of the multitude of covers (my favourite is the Frank Quitely one, bottom centre);

but now, inevitably, we have to move away from the excitement and the anticipation, and actually read the comic. It’s 40 pages! Almost a DOUBLE SIZED ISSUE, as they used to proclaim on the front covers of comics in the distant past. Does 40 pages mean double the carnage? Double the mind-blowingness? Double the Charlie Adlard splash pages? Well, the answer to one of those questions is a yes. There are some big pictures from Mr Adlard.

But is it any good?

I think the important thing to bear in mind, to offset the inevitable disappointment (yes, sorry, it will disappoint to some degree to some people), is that issue 100 could never live up to the hype. How many deaths did you expect? 3? 4? 10? I predicted (yesterday) that there would be 4. Glenn, Maggie, Sophia and Heath. That high body count does not come to pass. That may occur in issue 101 or 102 (we are still only at part 4 of 6 of ‘Something to Fear’). In this issue we only get 1 death. But don’t worry!Its a horrible death! A horrible death of an established character! But in terms of ‘game changing’, forget it. The Walking Dead has a hierarchy, and the status quo remains. There are no cash cows killed off to celebrate the centenary.

But is it any good??

I think so, overall. I didn’t really feel the extra pages, to be honest it read just like a standard size issue. The plot is straightforward, and goes like this (SPOILERS) – our survivors do not make it to Hilltop before nightfall, so they decide to stop, and that is when Negan and The Saviours turn up. Negan is quite intriguing, as he has the confidence and swagger of Leadership and the knowledge he has absolute power, but he also retains an intelligence to ensure he retains and builds his power base. However, he swears way too much. If swearing that much is a shorthand way of saying to the audience ‘Look how tough this guy is! He can put 3 ‘fucks’ in the same sentence motherfucker!’, then its just lazy. We get the idea – Negan is a bad-ass. He is surrounded by a huge contingent of bad-ass bikers and Mad Max 2 extras. We do not doubt his bad-assness. The swearing overload just makes him sound like a bit of a twat, and detracts from what is otherwise a solid introduction for the new villain of the piece (if you don’t include Rick and Carl). You believe that he commands respect and fear, and you believe he can control so many men (and there are loads and loads of them – check out the double page spread from Charlie Adlard!)

The rest of the issue is teaching Rick a lesson. Its a bloody hard lesson to take in. So when Kirkman gave us that quote (see top of the page), he was right. Issue #100 is gruesome, and disturbing, The murder scene is particularly unpleasant, almost pornographic in its imagery. The death scenes are also upsetting because of the emotion displayed from the characters, including the one who is dying. I found it powerful and upsetting.

Issue 100 will not live up to the hype and expectation for many, because what The Walking Dead does is let you believe that anything is possible. That is not strictly true, because Kirkman, for all his posturing that ‘no-one is safe’, knows exactly what side his bread his buttered on. That is to say, where this title is concerned, he takes a safety first approach to character mortality. Or to put it another way, imagine the most surprising death in issue 100. It doesn’t happen.

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.

The Walking Dead ‘Something to Fear’ Spoilers (Image/Skybound, 2012)

With the approach of issue 100, and beyond, of The Walking Dead, and the countdown to the ‘Something to Fear’ arc, which ties in with the landmark century, Robert Kirkman has been dropping some hints on what to expect, and how one of the pieces of art above may hold some clues…..