Walking Dead #108 Review
By: Rob Gruszecki
Over 100 issues of the Walking Dead have led us down some very dark paths. Many have led to family and close friends being murdered before your very eyes while others have exposed some of the darkest sides of existence when it looks as if all hope has been drained from the world. Some avenues have taken us to the dank seclusion of a prison while others have delivered us from evil and awarded us with safe, empty homes to populate and hopefully contribute to the communal serenity each human craves. Ultimately however what the Walking Dead has delivered time and time again is the reality that mankind will always be mankind’s worst enemy and even when the threat of the undead trudges along the planet one rotting limb at a time, what will always bring about the downfall of the human race will be itself.
The newest threat to Rick Grimes and his band of followers is a man named Negan, a very foul-mouthed psychopath toting a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. His group, the Saviors, terrorize all the surrounding communities into simply handing over half their supplies at a moments notice under threat of extreme and gruesome violence. This all comes to a head however when Rick decides to mount an attack which will need careful planning and subterfuge, even beyond the view of his own peers. Part of this planning process will result in the help of a man named Jesus bringing Rick to someone who may be useful in the fight against Negan. This man is Ezekiel.
Oh, I think I forgot to mention… Ezekiel has a tiger
Robert Kirkman has accomplished something astonishing. He has built an empire surrounding a comic that doesn’t involve Batman, Spider-Man or even a publisher of the big two magnitude. What he has built is a creator-owned series that has spawned a television series, videogames, endless memorabilia and most importantly manages to bring new fans into comic shops each week in droves, looking for the gateway drug and comic book crack that is the Walking Dead. As an independent venture this is a truly remarkable achievement and one that is important to the consistent survival of the comics medium. On top of all that Kirkman continues to script and expand on arcs that are exciting candy for the legion of fans the book has assembled, eagerly awaiting each new chapter.
Now, personally, I find some of the Walking Dead to be stale and cyclical, bordering on frustratingly redundant. I think I have read the same speech about leadership from Rick over a hundred times and this current arc with Negan I find almost indistinguishable from the previous Governor arc during the tail end of the prison saga. I find it hard telling some characters apart as I find their voices identical and development stagnant which makes it difficult for me to really become invested in the story. HOWEVER I realize that this puts me in the minority as again, this is a book that gains readers each month and continues to enthrall most everyone with every page, so clearly it’s doing something right. The only reason I even bother including my complaints in this review is to highlight something very positive that this particular issue did for me. It introduced characters that I found fresh and interesting, exposed a new environment that I found clever and completely original and most importantly I wanted to know what happened next. More than that, I CARED what was about to happen next. The developments within this issue were concisely executed and engaging with the introduction of a strange medieval approach to apocalypse survival, a king with a trusted tiger as a pet and a revelation with a member of Negan’s crew that drives the story forward nicely. Where I can sometimes find the story beats to seem hollow in the Walking Dead I found this one very enticing.
Charlie Adlard has been contributing to the series since issue seven and his contributions have been perfect for the series. I think his style is intense and emotional and of course his zombie braining is always amazing to look at. One of my problems with the Walking Dead is the endless stream of talking heads that bog down a lot of the issues leaving maybe two or three pages for Adlard to really show off his talent. This was not a problem for me in this issue at all as ample amounts of zombie slaying drawn incredibly was only met with a cool kingdom equipped with guards on horseback and of course a brand new bad-ass character with a giant tiger named Shiva at his command. Adlard’s work continues to compliment Kirkman’s scripts and add to the noir tone of the series that everyone knows and loves.
Despite my occasional annoyances with the series, The Walking Dead remains one of the most important and adored books on the shelves and this issue subverts all problems I have with it, making for one of the better issues of the whole run and definitely a favorite of fans for years to come.
Rob Gruszecki is a writer, musician and Wednesday warrior
Follow him on twitter @Ghost_Factory
Listen to his music www.ghostfactorymusic.com