Carl still won’t get in the house, but at least now there’s a good reason for it. Your Major Spoilers review of The Walking Dead #131 awaits!
THE WALKING DEAD #131
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler: Charlie Adlard
Inker: Stefano Gaudia
Graytones: Cliff Rathburn
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously in The Walking Dead: The war with Negan ended with Rick and the populace of Alexandria triumphant. Rick even convinced his son, Carl, not to kill Negan in revenge, instead locking him away for life in a makeshift prison. Now, a couple of years later, things are stable between Alexandria and the Hilltop, with Rick officially in overall command, the hero of the great war. Can he deal with Carl setting out to make a life of his own? And weren’t there some zombies around there someplace?
A BIG CHANGE
Stephen and I have talked at length about the cyclical nature of the plotting on The Walking Dead (as well as on Invincible, Kirkman’s other book) but I have to say… They definitely threw me with the last few issues. Jumping forward in time was a bold maneuver, and having Rick’s people actually win against the overwhelming forces of Negan’s saviors was a nice touch. Of course, leaving Negan alive seems like an odd decision for Rick, given his history in this title, but… I like it. This issue begins with Rick (now the leader of the settlement at Alexandria) and Carl having arrived at the Hilltop, where Carl is moving to start an internship as a metal worker. It’s a fun choice, especially given that aging of the actor who plays Carl on the television show, and it allows elder statesman Rick to deal with his son growing up and leaving the nest after battling to keep him alive since the end of the world. This issue has a lot of setup, and a lot of character work, showing us how much things have changed for the survivors of the Hilltop, now led by Maggie. There is a downside for the time jump, though, as the character designs are still a bit new, and getting used to bearded Rick and teenage Carl makes for an occasionally confusion reading experience.
SOMETHING IS STILL OFF
Of course, there’s also the question of the vipers in their midst, a new group of survivors led by Magna, who distrust Rick and believe that there’s something wrong in the heart of Alexandria. Magna is the most visually distinct of the new characters, and Charlie Adlard’s art has given me a slight crush on her (in a purely intellectual way, mind you) and her clear intelligence. Kirkman has definitely shaken the perception of “Hide, run, lather, rinse, repeat” with these last few issues, and the decision has really refreshed a book that felt inordinately dark and terrifying for the last 30-odd issues or so. Hating Negan as I do, the events leading up to “All-Out War” really took far too long for my tastes, and it’s good to get on to the next phase of TWD. I also like the fact that there are still unanswered questions, such as the present whereabouts of Michonne, and the possible teenage romance of Carl and Sophia to look forward to. It really is a new day for The Walking Dead, and I’m quite happy with this issue…
THE BOTTOM LINE: SURPRISING TURN OF EVENTS
The upside of Kirkman’s creator-owned status is the ability of this book to take an unexpected road and give us something that changes the status quo in meaningful ways (at least for a while.) The Walking Dead #131 is an impressive issue, with a lot of different elements percolating in the best soap opera fashion, and giving us new things to consider, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. I’m happy to say that what I expected to happen didn’t happen, and the story is that much better for it…