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The Walking Dead #102 – Review

By: Robert Kirkman (writer), Charlie Adlard (art), Cliff Rathburn (gray tones), Rus Wooton (letters)

The Story: Rick has to brace the community to knuckle under and kiss the ring.

A few things (with minor SPOILERS….no deaths or anything): 1. Make up your mind, man! – Rick has swished back and forth on what he’s doing about Negan, huh?  First, he’s fighting.  Then he’s beat down by the death of Glenn.  Then, last issue, he’s spitting fire again.  Now, he’s kinda bending the knee, or at least Rope-a-Doping the evil Negan.  However, it’s probably the wise choice.  As I said a few issues ago: What evidence do we have that Rick & Gang are badass?  They’ve had two conflicts with organized groups of humans; they got their asses kicked by The Governor’s forces and they’ve only prevailed against the Cannibals (which was a group of only 5-6 people).   Now, they’re missing Abraham, Glenn and Maggie.  Who is left to be badass?  Rick only has one hand, Andrea is a crack-shot with a rifle, but that doesn’t make her a tactical genius or anything and while the blogosphere likes to call Michonne a “ninja” she’s just a former attorney who owned a sword.  It isn’t like she’s a black belt in kenjutsu or anything. I realize they want to fight back, but fight back with WHAT?  Maybe Eugene can do more of his penis biting?

2. Making bullets? - This is a problematic plot thread.  Eugene says the he can make “bullets.”  I hate to go all gun-geek on Kirkman, but this just doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Does he mean “cartridges?”  That is the name for the entire article that you put into a firearm to shoot.  “Cartridges” consist of a brass case, primer, gunpowder and bullet.  The “bullet” is just the lead object that comes out of the barrel.  Making simple bullets is not incredibly difficult; you’re just pouring molten lead into a mold.  If the group has scrounged reloading equipment, making cartridges is not particularly difficult and anywhere you’d find the equipment, you’d also find the directions.  But, if Eugene is really making everything from scratch, then he’s a pretty talented guy.  You could probably do homemade gunpowder, but I’m not sure what you’d do for primers.  You’d probably be better off finding some old Revolutionary War replica flintlock rifles.

But, the troublesome thing about this passage is that Kirkman’s vocabulary is imprecise.  If Eugene knows what he’s doing, then he’d use the correct vocabulary.  Or perhaps this is just another example of Eugene not knowing what he’s doing.  This is where creator-owned books suffer from the lack of an editor.

3. Romantic jealousy? - Before Rick and Andrea became a couple, I thought I detected a few traces of romantic sparks between Rick and Michonne.  They were very slight sparks, but I really thought they were present.  It’s always hard to tell with comics though.  It could just be that Charlie Adlard gave Michonne a friendlier-than-normal expression in one panel and that makes me perceive a spark when the script didn’t call for it.  But this issue has a moment when Rick goes to talk to Michonne and she makes a kinda snotty remark about Rick’s newfound relationship. “Isn’t that what you have Andrea for?”  Now that cannot be an accident.  Kirkman seemed to be teasing this before and now he is pushing the button again.  Kirkman is up to something.

4. Right about the “hope” bit. - I was happy to see Rick pouring his guts out to Andrea about how Glenn was special to him because he was the guy who saved him in Atlanta and how Glenn was so selfless and how Glenn/Maggie represented “hope” in TWD.  Those were all the things I thought were going on in TWD.  When you have to write reviews for each issue of a beloved comic series you never really know if you’re getting it right.  So, sometimes it’s nice to see the writer mirror my thoughts into the lead character’s word balloons.  It makes me feel like I’ve got a handle on what Kirkman is up to , which makes me more confident about my other comments on the series.

5. Solid art (again). - What more is there to say about Adlard?  He does yeoman’s work issue-after-issue without getting a lot of accolades.  What I really appreciate about Adlard are the little things.  He’s sneaky good at illustrating the inter-personal relationships in TWD to convey some subtle stuff.  Take the Rick-Michonne relationship.  I don’t think there’s been anything overt in the word balloons that screams, “she kinda likes him” but there was still something that gave me that feeling.  Then, in the panel that I reference above, she is walking away from him as she says that.  All we see are her feet: She opened the door, let him in and was walking away, tossing a snotty comment over her shoulder…  That’s pretty good visual code for “irritated woman.”  Anytime they’re walking away from you while talking, they are either very busy or angry.

6. What?  Zombies?  What are they? - Amazing the complete lack of the rotting dead in this issue.  They’re just a non-factor at this point.  Knowing the series, they won’t stay that way forever, but still…

Conclusion: Nothing wrong with this issue that an editor couldn’t fix.  The subtle interpersonal relationship work is outstanding.

Grade: B+

-Dean Stell

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8 Responses

  1. Agree with all your observations Dean, although I think your criticisms of the cartridge vs. bullet issue is somewhat nitpicky. Kirkman has kept us all entertained with this title for 100 issues – I think we can cut him some slack when it comes to this level of technicality. I’m sure there will be logistical challenges with “making the bullets” that Kirkman will explore and Rick and crew will have to work through.

    My favorite part of this issue was the snarky, hilarious, good-natured give and take between Steven Yeun (the actor that plays Glenn on the TV series) and Kirkman in the letters column.

    • Yeah….I never know quite what to do when comic creators screw up firearm-related stuff. Clearly, they don’t give a shit or they would have bothered to learn. And….I know that the percentage of the comic community that knows about this stuff is pretty small too.

      I DO harp on it thought because (a) TWD is real world (except for the zombies) and (b) the guns are a major plot device. It isn’t like one gun appears every 20 issues in TWD….no, they’re in every issue. And one of the big plot devices right now is that Rick’s group still has guns and ammunition whereas Negan has clubs and crossbows. Guns give Rick’s group a chance, especially if Eugene can make more. I’m sorry….if guns and their ammunition is going to be that important, Kirkman should learn what he’s talking about. He doesn’t have to be an expert and TWD doesn’t need to turn into a Chuck Dixon issue of GI Joe where they’re talking about the calibers of the various weapons. But, if Kirkman is going to use a word…..he should use the correct word.

      And….it’s important because TWD is supposed to be kinda real world. The concept for the series is what real-world people would do to each other in trying circumstances. Well….it can’t only be really interesting from a real-world standpoint as long as the facade exists that the ONLY differences are the zombies. Once you start altering the little stuff, it pops the balloon and makes one question other things about the series.

      Or….at least that’s how I see it. :)

      • Understood. I think the fact that you are so demanding RE: story and plot details is demonstrative proof of your appreciation for the creative process and your high expectations and respect for this creative team in particular. I like your take on the Michonne/Rick/Andrea unrequited love triangle and your observations on the larger storytelling conventions (walking way, floor-view panels, uncelebrated and under-explained little sarcastic remarks that conceal a larger truth). Nice review.

        • I hadn’t thought of it that way, but you’re 100% right. I do want more from TWD than I do from some random Thor comic. When the random Thor comic isn’t up to snuff….I just drop it. With TWD, I want it to be perfect. :)

  2. I agree with most of your points in most of your Walking Dead reviews
    I did agree when you FIRST talked about Glenn and Maggie representing hope in a nearly hopeless world..

    When you say that Rick does’nt seem to know what to do…. I choose to see it completly differently….
    It seems in that issue that Rick is testin or gaugin his team or what’s left of it …you might see him like he is bending knees but i prefer to see him still focused….

    He his suggesting to Michonne about not fighting and you can almost feel his surprise and deception about the reaction of his ace fighter not wanting to fight. I can see Rick near is sleeping son like if he is considering him as an ally in a upcoming fight. Carl is going to be harder and harder to keep away from fights
    He is most certainly trying to keep Andrea away from any action…I think Rick is done with putting his love interest in the line of fire and Andrea will have to choose between fighting or be Rick’s girlfriend.

    Wich brings us to a brand new and refreshing fitghting team consisting of Rick, Jesus who I think is as good or even better than Abraham…Heat replacing Glenn and Eugene who has been portrayed as the ultimate looser but may be the biggest ace Rick ever got..
    Imagine if you had nearly infinite bullets or if you prefer cartridges or ammo or wathever you may want to call it ( I don’t personally give a rat’s ass about what is the best way to call something that serves to shoot from a gun period.)

    Negan may have Machetes Chainsaws Baseball Bats ( Hi Lucille !)
    Spears and may have fifty times the manpower but i’d put my money on the guns everyday of the week.

    The Walking dead comic is one of the best comic on the market today I find it very difficult to wait a whole month between issues I cannot say that about any other comic out there and I collect nearly 40 titles a month…

    The Walking Dead comic does’nt need no editor at all…What it needs is one clone of Kirkman and one clone of Adlard……..

    • I’m not quite as sold on Jesus are you are, but I do like him as a character. I kinda wonder when he and Rick bonded to the extent that they’ll hatch a secret plan together, but whatever……it’s high drama and I approve. Imagine how pissed Andrea and Michonne will be when they realize that Rick kept the plan secret from them, but included the new guy?!?!? :)

      I hear you on the gun vocabulary issue and I know that most comic fans don’t give a crap. Frankly, it seems like most comic fans don’t like guns very much in the real world.

      But….I’m not letting is slide when Kirkman uses words incorrectly. Either Kirkman used the word correctly and Eugene will soon WOW us with his lead melting skills and then blush when someone say, “Great. Where’s the gunpowder?” OR Eugene is really planning to make cartridges from scratch….in which case Kirkman used the wrong word.

      I don’t know about you, but in my professional life….I’m not allowed to misuse words in emails or otherwise. That’s called being professional and Kirkman is a professional writer.

      He’s also a very busy guy. That’s why he needs an editor. Not someone like Tom Breevort who screws up the story, but someone who can say, “Whoa Robert! You’re talking about technical gun stuff here….. As far as I know, you don’t know anything about guns. Let’s check to see if that word is correct before we go to print OR lets use a more vague word that we KNOW is correct. I’d be happy to look that up for you…..”

      • Im in the army and calling any ammo bullets is perfectly fine, it works. Eugene already talked about collecting the spare Casing to use

        • Oh….I appreciate that and I KNOW I’m nitpicking, but non-attention to detail drives me crazy. There’s always a way for the writer to compose the sentence in a more vague way to avoid using technical vocabulary where they are unsure of meanings. And, it isn’t like this is esoteric stuff. The Wikipedia entry for “bullet” addresses the misconception in the preamble paragraph.

          I do hear your point, but I’d say that although the shooters don’t need to know the distinction, the reloaders most certainly do. Otherwise, how do they know what components to ask for? If you say, “I’m out of bullets” when you are reloading and have brass casings, primers and powder, but have no bullets, you want someone to bring you bullets….not fully loaded cartridges or ammo.

          Of course….for all the impact this storyline has had, I also can’t believe that Kirkman made it a plot point….

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