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.