Or – “A Walking Dead Double-Feature!”

What has Negan done with Carl Grimes?

WalkingDead107CoverTHE WALKING DEAD #107
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler: Charlie Adlard
Inker: Charlie Adlard
Grey Tones: Cliff Rathburn
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Publisher: Image Comics/Skybound
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in The Walking Dead:  Rick’s sanctuary at Alexandria has a viper in its midst: An unscrupulous man named Negan, whose “Saviors” have vowed to take half of the settlement’s food and supplies in return for not sweeping in and killing them all.  It’s a tough bargain, but Negan has proven himself willing to enforce it with his brutal murder of Glenn in #100.  In the last couple of issues, young Carl has taken it upon himself to avenge Glenn, stealing a machine gun and sneaking into Negan’s compound.  After murdering several men, the boy gained the big man’s respect, but the matter of punishment has been on both their minds.  Last issue, Rick came to Negan’s territory to find his son, only for the his vulgar counterpart to gloat, “I can’t [expletive deleted] wait until you see what I’ve done to your little boy!”

OVERSTAYING HIS WELCOME.

The first panel of the issue picks up milliseconds after Negan’s announcement, with Rick immediately laying into his antagonist with a headbutt and a savage beating.  Things quickly go downhill when Negan waves off his goons with the cliche that it’s his fight, and proceeds with a foul-mouthed beatdown on Rick, even making fun of his lost hand.  I have to say, I am SOO tired of Negan’s routine at this point, with his constant posing, monologueing and endless tired f-words.  The Governor, for all his myriad weaknesses as a character, at least carried with him a sense of menace, and a vicious, twisted code of honor.  Negan feels like a jumped-up thug (which is probably intentional) and a completely evil Mary Sue (which likely isn’t.)  Worst of all, he admits to having taunted Rick just to piss him off, as Carl is completely unharmed, other than the scars of meeting the bad guy face-to-face.  It’s an infuriating plot point cloaked in bait-and-switch, made even worse by a long discussion last month between Carl and Negan about what he should do to teach the kid a lesson.  Is there something we don’t know going on here?  Almost certainly, and I expect that the question of Carl’s punishment will come back to haunt the series, but the interaction makes the entire first half of this issue come across as insufferable.

CAN WE POSSIBLY DRAG THIS MESS OUT ANY FURTHER?

The second half of this issue details life back in Alexandria, including some interesting character work for Michonne, who could really use a little spotlight as something other than ass-kicker, and the discovery of a bullet factory in Alexandria.  (That’s mighty convenient.)  We get to see some of the neglected members of the extended cast, including Rosita, Eugene and Jesus, who has some good news for the group.  Charlie Adlard is flat-out wonderful in his consistency of character design, with every single character distinct even without a color palette and after changing clothes.  From a visual perspective, the whole issue is spot one, from vehicles to factory to the occasional close-up of Carl’s ruined eye-socket.  From a story-telling perspective, though, it feels a bit like filler, trying to ratchet up the tension with yet another fruitless confrontation with Negan and a “Brown Hornet miraculously escaped unharmed!” resolution to last issue’s big cliffhanger.

BOTTOM LINE:  YOU CAN’T MIX CLIMAX AND ANTI-CLIMAX!

Stephen’s opinion of The Walking Dead came back to me during the reading of this issue, with his voice chanting “It’s all build, build, build, then a big fight, half the cast dies, back to step one.”  The Negan character has yet to show anything that makes him much more than a darker, grittier version of the Governor, and I’m at a loss to understand what all this buildup to war is meant to be other than example what it seems to be.  The art is always a treat with TWD, though, and a quiet conversation in the issue that discusses how making concessions with Negan and living without conflict, even under his thumb, is more like civilization than they’ve had in years.  It’s a fair point, and one that makes me hope that something other than another brutal murder is in the offing for this conflict.  The Walking Dead #107 hits a couple of really sour notes, but still keeps the beat, earning a still-pretty-good 3 out of 5 stars overall.  I’m a little tired of the blah-blah-blah and a LOT tired of Negan, but some attention to the supporting cast softened the blow of the bad bits…

Rating: ★★★☆☆

DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!

Reader Rating

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 3.33 out of 5)
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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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4 Comments

  1. February 16, 2013 at 6:38 pm — Reply

    You make some great points in this review. First, the cover and first encounter are all bait and switch. It’s cheap, and I saw through it right away.

    I sometimes feel like I’m reading TWD more out of habit than anything. Going through the motions with yet another villain. I have never really been sold on Negan as a serious threat… He strikes me as hubris personified, it’s infuriating how shallow the character is so far.

    I am still holding out hope for some epic war with Aledandria + The Hilltop vs Negan et al. We haven’t seen any large-scale warfare in TWD yet besides the little skirmishes outside the prison 60 issues ago. I guess I’m just waiting for something *new* from TWD, but I’m starting to think I should stop holding my breath.

  2. Verse
    February 16, 2013 at 7:52 pm — Reply

    I was not surprised at this at all. I could be cynical, but I really blame Kirkman. Invinsible was the same way. Seems his thing now is the “Bait and Switch” and the same ole same ole. TWD has the threat kill half the cast and start over? Invinsible has Mark learn a new lession and find a way to be a new type of hero that is A Father/Not a Father or Kills/No longer kills. I plan on staying on board until the end of this arc and may get off after that depending on how it ends.

  3. Matthew Guy
    February 17, 2013 at 6:37 am — Reply

    I give it a 3/5 rating. A good issue & Rick biting was a nice change of pace in combat in fighting a enemy & Nagin being “nice” was a change I didn’t see coming. I really do want Nagin dead by issue #112 or at the very least the action put in place from the community’s stockpile of ammo. I didn’t know that Heath was a guy w/ his hairstyle it made him look like a girl. Learn something new everyday. My only hope soon in the not to distant future is that Rick & Andrea get married.

  4. SamDS
    February 23, 2013 at 7:51 pm — Reply

    2/5 I did expect something bad to happen to Carl, so this was a major disappointment. Then again, im sick of the character of Carl, hoping Negan just killed him straight out. Frankly, I wish Carl had been raped or something, to prove Negan was serious about the conflict.
    I was left wanting.

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