Or – “KIRKMAAAAN!!!”
We’ve officially reached the big anniversary issue of Walking Dead, marking 100 installations of the book that some people predicted wouldn’t make ten issues thanks to the glut of zombies back in ’03. As a full-fledgd multimedia phenomenon, The Walking Dead is one of the great success stories of the decade, and things have been building towards what the creative team has been touting as a shocking status-quo-rocking issue. Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
Previously, in The Walking Dead: Rick and his band of survivors have once again found themselves a sanctuary against the flesh-eating monsters that wander the land, settling in the small town of Alexandria, and trying to establish a trade situation with another settlement. There have been incursions by a group of thugs, controlled by a mysterious man called “Negan,” but Rick has been able to rebuff them with his usual cocktail of violence, violence, and the occasional murder. Rick, along with Michonne, Carl, Glen and a few others, has set out again for the other settlement, leaving Andrea in charge back in Alexandria…
A HARD DAY’S NIGHT.
The story opens with a very ominous page, as two of Negan’s gang of Saviors, apparently watching over Alexandria in preparation for an attack, unbeknownst to our heroes. Kirkman builds the tension, as we see various members of the group going about their daily lives, making it seem like something horrible is about to happen. The previous 99 issues of the book have conditioned me to find the quiet moments terrifying, the “calm before the storm effect,” and with Rick away from town, I find myself sure that we’re going to see Andrea’s death. I’ve heard people who have stayed away from this title because it’s black and white, but the use of gray-tone and the realistic texture in the art make me almost forget that it’s not in color, making the palette feel like the correct artistic decision for the story. I am concerned about the decision to make the comic book and television show continuities separate and distinct, as well. I understand the impetus to keep one from “spoiling” the other, but part of me worries that it will turn off fans of one medium to the other. (I also missed Daryl throughout this issue.)
I HATE THIS GUY ALREADY.
Kirkman even swerves me, pulling off a bait and switch in this issue by bringing the attack down not on Alexandria, but on Rick’s traveling party, with The Saviors coming in the night and getting the drop on Rick himself. Negan’s reveal is wonderfully, even masterfully handled, as the very first words out of his mouth make me want to cave in his skull (an urge that becomes horribly twisted soon enough.) The sight of nearly fifty goons with various bloody weapons is horrifying enough, but Negan’s smarmy dialogue makes it so much worse, sounding like Larry from Three’s Company, all the while brutally discussing his new paradigm: Rick and company will give up half their supplies, or they will die horribly. He emphasizes his point by playing a game of “Eeny, Meeny, Miney Mo” (HATE this guy) to choose the person who will bear the brunt of his revenge, and then proceeds to kill a major character ON PANEL in the most graphic way possible. We also find that the promised character “Lucille,” is Negan’s weapon, a bat wrapped in barbed wire, which he proceeds to bludgeon (SPOILER WARNING) Glen to death. It’s an awful moment, especially given the character’s history, but it’s so much worse to see the carnage while Negan makes JOKES during the murder, and threatens to rip out Carl’s other eye and make Sophia eat it if any of Rick’s party so much as moves. The end of the issue leaves me feeling like I’ve been punched in the gut, and I suddenly realize: They never showed anything to prove that Negan DIDN’T also attack Alexandria.
THE VERDICT: DEFINITELY SHOCKING, BUT ABRUPT.
I went into this issue expecting major repercussions, as Kirkman has been quite open that something horrible was going to happen in this issue. But even that expectation, combined with the previous 10 years of books, didn’t prepare me for what we saw. In terms of blood-chilling scenes, they haven’t been on this level since Lori and Rick’s daughter died during the Governor’s siege on the prison years ago. The Walking Dead #100 does deliver on the hype, leaving me shocked and saddened by the new status quo and dreading the next issue, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.