REVIEW: The Walking Dead #105

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Or – “Don’t Ever Underestimate Kirkman’s Eldritch Powers…”

After issue #100’s shocker, I had expected that Walking Dead might hit a lull, that the tension would slowly start to build again as we neared another conflict.  That hasn’t happened, and after the events of last month, we may be about to lose another familiar face from the regular cast.  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

WalkingDead105CoverTHE WALKING DEAD #105
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler: Charlie Adlard
Colorist/Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Publisher: Image Comics/Skybound
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in The Walking Dead:  When the man known as Negan murdered one of his oldest friends, Rick Grimes started putting together a plan for retribution.  The problem is, he couldn’t let anyone KNOW about it, leaving most of his band of survivors thinking that there is no hope of escaping from under the madman’s thumb.  This led Rick’s boy Carl (who, big $&@#ing surprise, ISN’T IN THE HOUSE!) to take drastic action, stowing away in the back of Negan’s truckload of stolen supplies (which serve as the “protection” money to keep Negan from attacking Alexandria with all his men).

Oh, and Carl also brought a machine-gun, and murdered half a dozen men, with the intent of taking Negan and killing him as well…

LITTLE CARL IS KIND OF A BAD@$$…

I’m still torn about Negan, as to whether he’s being played as flat-out Axe Crazy, or if there’s really unseen intellect behind his obscene diatribes.  Negan even saves Carl from a beating at the hands of his own lieutenants, and takes the boy to his home to discuss the situation.  Carl handles himself well for an eight-year-old, while Negan seems to enjoy talking with the boy like an equal, even admitting that Carl is, in his words, “a $&@#ing bad-@$$.”  The bulk of the issue gives us some of our first glimpses into life among the saviors, a society where most of the population serves Negan’s whims to earn “points” that they can exchange for medicine, food and basic necessities.  Things get even more unpleasant when we meet Negan’s “wives,” a harem of women that he forces to dress in skimpy attire and serve as sex slaves for plush treatment.  Each layer is designed to make Negan seem more and more monstrous and amoral, and it works.  It almost works a bit too well, as there doesn’t seem to be much reason for all of these people to serve under someone who is clearly working entirely for his own ends…

NEGAN, HOWEVER, IS OUT OF HIS MIND.

Negan and Carl discuss what the “punishment” will be for Carl’s gunning down his men, and we finally see the boy crack under the pressure.  Charlie Adlard does an amazing job with the sequence, conveying Carl’s slow expectation that he’s not going to survive the experience, and the fear that slowly overtakes him.  We also get our first look at what’s under Master Grimes’ eyepatch, and it is particularly awful.  (It also brings up the question of how much time has passed in the last few issues of the book, given a young boy’s rate of healing, but that’s another issue entirely.)  Another mystery is solved in these pages, one that I think will be important to how the conflict between Rick and Negan is going to be resolved.  It’s a pretty strong issue, given that it’s mostly conversation, with a brutal moment near the end, and a chilling final page wherein the bad guy tells Carl that it’s time to figure out what to do with him.  The art is excellent, as usual, and I like the fact that there aren’t a lot of divergences from the dramatic meat of the story, not even to check in on Rick or Michonne or Dreadlock-Man back in town.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A VERY STRONG AND PAINFUL ISSUE…

This issue does what this comic does well, providing seriously drama and a couple of warranted and well-set-up moments of shock.  It’s difficult for me to choose whether the TV story or this version of events is superior, but when the book is this good, I don’t even care about comparisons.  The Walking Dead #105 keeps up a streak of strong issues with no filler, putting a familiar character in an unfamiliar place and delivering some good storytelling out of it, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  I sure hope that this doesn’t end up with what the wrestling fans call a “squash,” because Carl deserves better.

Rating: ★★★★☆

DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!

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