Or – “A Walking Dead Double-Feature!”
What has Negan done with Carl Grimes?
THE 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…
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!