Written By: Robert Kirkman
Pencils By: Charlie Adlard
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: OUT NOW IN STORES & DIGITAL DOWNLOAD (VIA COMIXOLOGY)
100 issues of The Walking Dead! 100! Who would have believed it was possible to generate this long a run from a zombie apocalypse comic without going down silly routes like space missions, radiation fused super powers or just plain madness. Robert Kirkman just continues to deliver on his promise of exploring what happens after what we are used to in post-apocalyptic stories. How do people survive? What’s going on in the rest of the world? How does something this catastrophic change a person?
Of late, I’ve had a change of pace with The Walking Dead. I used to read the quarterly volumes and collect that way but since the buzz for the road to issue 100 started my impatience took over and via a friend that buys individual issues, I’ve gone for the monthly read instead. I have to say I much prefer reading the collections. The slow unravelling nature of the comic works much better when you’re reading in volumes and single issues are just over too soon with a sense that nothing really happened from time to time.
So, issues 89-99.. There’s been small steps rather than large leaps but often this is what The Walking Dead does well. Rick’s gang have found somewhere they could build a future (again), Rick has made a brash decision to chase off some bad guys (again) and Rick and a small group have headed off to make the final preparations to move the larger group to somewhere more secure (again). In most comics having this many ‘agains’ would grow tiresome but with The Walking Dead it’s that cycle of trying that enables the characters to grow, break or end up dead. This is issue #100 so Kirkman delivers on all three.
I toyed with keeping this review spoiler free but I just can’t. Not talking about the game changer here would be like reviewing Avengers vs X-men and not mentioning the fighting (for those that don’t know, that’s pretty much all that happens over in Marvel’s big event). So those that don’t want to know. Walk away now. Those that want to talk devastation. Stick around.
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So with Rick and the small group in the van caught short on their trip to the Hilltop they are forced to camp out in the middle of the night. There’s a sense we might see some zombies and we do but only a little bit (it’s surprisingly how little actually happens with zombies in this comic of late really). As is always the case with The Walking Dead it’s the humans who are the most gruesome and when Rick and Co. are ambushed by Negan and fifty of his men, I had one of those moments where my stomach fell out from under me, the sort of moment that The Walking Dead thrives on and does so well.
So, Negan is immediately one of the most aggressive baddies The Walking Dead has had for a while. Both physically and verbally this guy is about intimidation and in his way he provides us a good overview of where we are 100 issues into the series. Explaining to Rick how his actions have led to this moment is something that will no doubt weigh on Rick down the line but when Negan drops the bombshell that one of Rick’s group has to be treated as an example to get the rest in line, Kirkman delivers another classic Walking Dead moment that will stick in the mind for another 100 issues.
The reasons for choosing one of Rick’s scouting party to make an example of are laid out. We’re given hints at past and future events. Michonne’s past with The Governor is brushed past, Carl’s future and how this kid HAS to be messed up is commented on and then comes the ‘eeny meeny miny moe’ of who’s going to get hit with the barb wire covered baseball bat. Kirkman and Adlard create the tension perfectly. This isn’t going to happen like this is it? There’s got to be a way out of the situation? Rick’s going to…BAM! It happened. Glenn’s takes a blow to the head that is about as shocking as it gets in comics and even though his head is bashed in and one of his eyes have popped out of the socket there’s something in me that thinks that this can’t be the end for Glenn, after all Carl got shot through the eye and he.. BAM BAM BAM! The hits just keep on coming.. It feels as devastating as The Joker killing Jason Todd with the crowbar in A Death in the Family and the fact that the death of Glenn feels that important really celebrates how strong a presence The Walking Dead has become in the world of comics. Once again The Walking Dead stands proud as one of, if not the bravest comic books out there.
I fell in love with The Walking Dead when I realised no one is safe. Rick’s hand. Everything the Governor did. Main characters meeting brutal ends. Kirkman seems to always pick the right character to go and at the right times, even if its heartbreaking to watch. Issue # 100 was over to soon, despite it’s slightly longer page count but it’s an issue that I’m not going to forget any time soon. This was a devastating blow to the world of The Walking Dead and once again I’m left thinking ‘What the f**k is Rick going to do now?” This loss is another close one for Rick and it’s ripples through the Walking Dead series could stretch on for a fair while. 100 issues in The Walking Dead is still shocking me at all the right times and seeing what Rick Grimes will do next is something I’m never going to grow tired of.