Category Archives: The Walking Dead

Review – The Walking Dead 108 (Image/Skybound, 2013)

SPOILERS!!! from here on in….

Issue 108 is the last of the current ‘arc’ – in other words this will be the last few pages you read when the next trade (volume 18) is released in June (currently scheduled for 11 June according to Amazon UK). What that means is, is that issue 108 gives you enough story without much being resolved. It whets the appetite but not much more. The major talking point is the arrival of Ezekiel and his Tiger. No, the Tiger is not stuffed. His name is Shiva (the name of a Hindu deity – Shiva means ‘auspicious one’). Shiva abhors violence apparently. Maybe that’s why ‘King’ Ezekiel is able to treat him like a pet. Yes – ‘King’ Ezekiel is actually the ruler of ‘The Kingdom’ another one of the pockets of Survivors that make up Kirkman’s ‘Larger World’. King Ezekiel appears to have all the affectations of a ruler of a past age, complete with men on horseback trotting out to meet visitors and questioning them with antiquated speech. It is all fairly ridiculous, and Kirkman knows this, so this is all a bit tongue in cheek. Ezekiel isn’t the first to go a bit eccentric in a post apocalyptic setting – Lord Humungus from Mad Max 2 not only gave himself a lofty title, but also liked wearing a medieval type Hockey Mask and not much else;

Back in the comic, Rick has been introduced to Ezekiel by Jesus. Rick does not like Negan (recap later) and guess what? Neither does Ezekiel, who finds his Negan’s style of leadership not up to his Royal standards. To add to the party atmosphere, there is a surprise appearance from Dwight (of The Saviors)! I think its fairly safe to say that his potential to betray Negan was apparent after we learned that not only had the potty-mouthed tyrant a) nicked Dwight’s wife but then b) burnt half his face of when poor Dwight tried to steal a few moments with his wife! Rick, however, was not happy to see Dwight and remains suspicious, and can you blame him. After all, not only have the Saviors been responsible for the deaths of 2 important members of Rick’s group (Abraham and Glen), but they also held Rick’s son, Carl, when he went all Scrappy-Doo and tried to do the job that his Dad won’t do right now (which is to KILL NEGAN). AND the Saviors want to come along to Rick’s walled community whenever they feel like it and take whatever they want. So you can see why there is some hostility. Hey, I am sure it will all work out fine. Kirkman is letting the readers know that there is an alliance of like minded communities and individuals forming here, with the express purpose of taking Negan down.

We had another peek into the world of Negan this week, when we learned that he has to win at Ping Pong. If he doesn’t, I assume ‘Lucille’ (that’s ‘Lucille’ the Baseball Bat) comes into play. So the lower orders of The Saviors (ie everyone who is not Negan) have to simply throw the match. I believe this proves beyond doubt that, alongside the awful language and general anti social tendencies, that Negan is one big bully and a sore loser. The sooner we are rid of him so we can go back to Rick having long dialogues with himself or any unfortunate who happens to be caught in his gaze, the better!

Speaking of which, there was too many words in the final few pages. Everyone caught a bug and the result was a wave of verbal diarrhoea. It’s pretty much mandatory to have at least a couple of pages of this sort of verbosity. I guess its something you just have to get used to.

I flagged Spencer as a problem a couple of issues back – see here. There is something in this issue that only reinforces that. A small scene, but it could be growing into a major plot point over the next few issues.

There was a little bit of zombie action, which was surprising only for how insignificant it felt, other than to give Carl a moment to be vulnerable. This isn’t  a comic about Zombies any more is it? They appear to be nothing more than an annoyance.

Michonne and Andrea had a few panels together. Michonne is refreshingly frank and sparing with her words in this issue. I wish Rick was.

Was it a good issue? Well, it wasn’t bad. It was faintly ridiculous (all that King Ezekiel stuff) and there was some forward momentum (the conspirators coming together against Negan).The cover is amazing, and is the very best thing about The Walking Dead 108.

The Walking Dead #106 Preview and Wrap Cover (2013)

Out on January the 9th, The Walking Dead #106 (with the best cover of the year so far) arrives with the tantalising prospect of a Negan / Rick showdown. I think most of us who follow the comic accept that any showdown will not be a fatal one for either character (if you have seen the cover of #107 then you will feel a lot more certain of that) – and besides, you get the feeling Negan is going to be around for a while yet. Anyway, we have a few pages of preview of #106 to tide us over until the middle of the week. So follow the link;

Cover for The Walking Dead #108 (image/skybound 2013)

Yeah – damn right. Whatever you may have been expecting on the cover of #108 of The Walking Dead, it probably was not this. Can The Walking Dead get even better in 2013 compared to 2012? If this cover is an indication, then it’s a resounding yes from this reader.

The solicitation reads;

(W) Robert Kirkman (A/CA) Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn
Ezekiel has a tiger.
In Shops: 3/6/2013
So whoever Ezekiel is in this post-apocalyptic world, he gets introduced into Kirkman’s world in March, and expands the horizons of this comic a little more. It is indeed a Larger World out there, and Kirkman is really opening up. 
Congratulations to Charlie Adlard as well – it’s a fine cover; in fact it reminds me a bit of something Brendan McCarthy would do, and I mean that as a compliment.

Review – The Walking Dead #103 (image / Skybound, 2012)

Needless to say, this is a review, so there are SPOILERS.

I can see where Kirkman is coming from now, with his portrayal of Negan. He is going to be a real deal villain, like the bad guy in those black and white matinee movies, all twirling of his moustache and sweeping his black cape about him, and a resounding evil cackle  His entrance in #100 was suitably over the top, the terrible violence meted out was only part of the show. It was also his mannerisms, his choice use of language (does anyone really swear like that?), his tactics. He was clever, calculating, but also brutal, and most definitely a complete Dick with that captial D.

In #103, Negan returns, and now its clear what Kirkman M.O is here. Negan is so loathsome, that the title now has an adversary worthy of this great series. On a par with the Governor? Maybe, it is too early to tell. it depends on how Kirkman handles the story in the months to come. But the potential is there to make Negan the greatest villain that Rick Grimes has encountered. He has the swagger, the presence, the brain and the brawn. And the swearing.

So, Negan arrives – as promised back in #100 – to collect his ‘tax’ from the community. 50%, as he said. There is some resistance from Rick, when, with the big gate of the Alexandria Safe Zone separating him and Negan, Rick stares at him sullenly, there is a moment when you wonder if the fightback starts right there. The resistance lasts a few panels. Rick ends up looking more like a recalcitrant child. It’s a great little scene.

And while I am going off on a tangent, there is another great scene at the start of the issue, with Jesus (aka ‘Paul’) doing some covert tracking of Dwight and his eye drops (love that little bit of detail Adlard keeps ‘dropping’ in). Jesus is so kick-ass he can even fell a few zombies while doing his covert thing. Does this confirm that Jesus is actually on Ricks side? Or is he that deep cover that the deception extends to Negan’s men not knowing that Jesus is actually one of their own? There is still a lingering sense that Jesus is not all he seems, and Kirkman has fostered that. And that is a shame, because I want Jesus to be with the ‘good’ guys. His character is strong enough to be a worthy addition to the main cast of characters. With the loss of Abraham, we need some more Alpha males in the cast to be able to balance out Rick. Anyway, bottom line is – Jesus is following Dwight, as per the plan Rick devised last issue. We may get to know a bit more about Negan and his environment pretty soon. I hope that is going to be interesting.

One more interesting scene before I go back to Negan, There are a few panels where Carl and Rick share some time, and you can feel the disdain pouring out of Carl towards his Father. Adlard, again, conveys the emotion in the scene. Where this will go – with Carl clearly feeling like his Father has lost face, and control over their situation – is unclear. But this will be taken further, undoubtedly. Later on in the issue, Carl attempts to threaten Negan, but his ire is quickly dampened when he realises the threat he is up against. Again, how this feeds into how Carl is going to react to the whole situation is intriguing, and probably will be looked at further in the near future, if upcoming cover art is any sort of indicator.

So, Negan is at the gates. Rick is going to let him in – what else can he do? But it is important to note that Negan and the Saviors have actually been doing some community-spirited work, clearing out some walkers that have been lurking near the vicinity of the Safe Zone. Negan clearly has a code of honour and duty to those who he deems are under his protection, however warped this world view is to the reader. But this is post-apocalypse territory, the normal rules don’t apply any more.

Now we get to the meat of this issue, with Negan and the Saviors making their presence felt inside the safe zone. These scenes are handled so well, with Negan firmly in control. It is all in the detail – for example, Negan gives Rick ‘Lucille’ to hold. This is interesting in so many ways – it shows the powerlessness of Ricks situation. Rick is having to hold the weapon that killed Glenn. It is a weapon that could kill Negan, but Rick is powerless to do it, because the repercussions would probably lead to the death of all those he loves. It shows the balance of power has truly shifted, as Rick is no more than a caddy for Negan. Negan does not view him as a threat, and is making that clear to the widest audience possible.

Negan surveys the Safe Zone, and clearly admires the set-up, so there is a threat established whereby the Saviors can decide to either co-exist in the Safe Zone or evict the current dwellers and take it for themselves.  Then we get to the food and medicine supplies. Negan does not want to take any food, as hungry people are no good to him. Another example of his tactical thinking. He wants people fit and healthy, so he can take what he wants from them. He wants productive people. He is again clearly establishing that he does not view these people as a threat. Then comes the master-stroke. When the Saviors take their cut of the medicine supplies, they take less than the 50% they are entitled to, but what they do take is the morphine and oxycontin and anything else that can be used  (presumably for ‘recreation’ purposes and as an incentive and a bargaining tool). They leave the cold medicine, aspirin and penicillin. They leave the community at risk if there are any serious health issues, presumably leaving them at the mercy of Negan, having to go to him to request those supplies. This scene again shows Rick lack of options. He has to talk Denise out of shooting the Saviors taking the supplies, and try to reason with Negan so that they can retain some of the morphine and other medicines. His plea to Negan falls on deaf ears. Rick has no bargaining power.

The one pointless scene of the week, and the one part of this issue that just did not hold up well at all, is Andrea and Ricks lovers tiff. What was that all about? I took this summary from the Walking Dead Wiki, as they explain it so well, and shows the scene up for what it is – pointless;

Andrea is about to move out of Rick’s house because she isn’t satisfied with his decision of letting Dwight go back. Rick stops her in the last minute and tells her about his plan, how he is pretending to be scared so they can strike back at Negan. Andrea wonders why Rick didn’t tell her earlier, and he says he didn’t want everyone to know.

This is the issue 1 of the new arc and is, as yet, untitled. Well thank goodness for that. Too many of these recent arcs have been labelled and packaged. it feels like each 6 episode run is overtly worked purely for the trade reprint, which feels like a constraint to story. That may be so, but by giving a name to every arc, you also make it an ‘event’, it gets expectations too high. I like The Walking Dead just as much when there is no arc title blazed across each issue.

In summary, a great issue, so many exciting possibilities. The cover art is not a direct commentary on the action in the issue, but is an expression of the way the balance of power has shifted in this comic. Negan holds all the power now. How Rick reacts to that is now the driver of the plot. If he makes a wrong decision on this, it could cost many lives. I get the sense that any move against Negan, even if successful, is going to come at a heavy price.

The title is really back on track, where the next issue cannot come quickly enough. This, coupled with the fantastic Walking Dead game that is out now on various plaforms, and the soon to be aired Series 3 of the TV show, means it has never been a better time to be a fan.

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.