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

The Story: Someone is out to get revenge against Negan.

A few things (with SPOILERS): 1). Is Jesus smooth, incompetent or both? - It’s hard to determine Jesus’ motives.  Clearly, this Dwight dude is a little dim as he didn’t notice that Jesus was following him when it was seemingly obvious to Dwight’s buddies.  Was this all part of Jesus’ plan?  Was he just sick of walking and figured he could get “captured” and “hitch a ride” to Negan’s super-cool, wasteland base (complete with animated zombie decorations)?  It’s really hard to tell, but it’s fun to have a character and scene where there are multiple possible interpretations.  If only the TV show were this nuanced!

2). Whoa!  Carl! - It’s also a little hard to know what is going on with Carl.  He says he’s there simply to kill Negan, but it’s also possible that Carl has gone off the deep end.  This is the kind of long-form storytelling that TWD excels at.  By this, I mean that Carl’s dark side has been building in ernest for the last 30-35 issues and perhaps this is the pay off.  In that time, he’s killed another child, seen a potential new mother and sibling get eaten by zombies, been shot in the head and seen Glenn smashed into goo.  That’ll bring out the darkness.  One popular theme of apocalypse fiction is the classic scene where the pregnant lady asks herself, “How could I bring a child into this world?”  Well…..maybe this is what happens to those children?  I always assumed that Carl would grow up strong, but maybe he’ll just turn psycho.

I should also add that if anyone deserves to be dead, it is this Negan character.  What a dick!  But, it is interesting to see that some people are thriving in the zombie apocalypse.  Negan was probably a washed-up former high school football player before the world ended.  He was one of those guys that everyone forgot as they went onto college, got good jobs and started families because Negan was back home as a overweight loser doing some menial job.  But then comes the apocalypse and he dons his leather jacket and grabs his baseball bat and is right back to being a bully.

3). Not a lot of action otherwise. - Other than the elements mentioned above, not a whole lot happens in this issue – and that’s mostly appropriate.  This story arc is building to a climax and it makes sense to not have other extraneous stuff going on.  About the only thing to glean from the action is that the rest of the community really thinks that Rick is an A-hole.  Even if it is appropriate to focus on Carl’s story, what happened to the big news a few issues ago the Eugene was reasonably confident he could make bullets (or ammunition)?  And, when is this Rick/Michonne relationship going to be addressed?  It isn’t that I question whether it’s right to neglect those stories in this issue, but why have Eugene mention that and go silent about it for a few issues?  Just have him bring up that story and resolve it in issue #109 (or whenever).

4). Big things to come. - Man, just thinking of the next couple of issues makes me all tingly.  Basically, Jesus has to get back to the community and warn Rick.  But, does Jesus even know what happened with Carl?  If Rick knows what’s going on with Carl, what does he even do about it?  You know that Rick will try to save his son and that Andrea, Michonne and a few others (major redshirt potential!) will be right there with him, but to what effect?  Negan’s camp looks pretty big, tough and populous, and all the people there are of the carnivore variety of human.

Perhaps the more interesting question is: What will Negan do with Carl?  The normal penalty for trying to kill Negan is probably slow, painful death, but you get the sense that he kinda likes Carl in a sick sort of way – one psycho to another.  And, will Carl be pleased to see his father?  It seems that little Carl is pretty disgusted with Rick.

And here I thought that whole arc of Jesus following Dwight back to Negan’s camp would take another 6-7 months.  Wrong!

5). Typically good art. - This isn’t the greatest issue that Charlie Adlard has done and he continues his recent trend of everything getting rougher and coarser, but the art is still very effective.  I mean, I wish he’d keep drawing faces on all these characters in the background, but their absence doesn’t really hurt the storytelling.  And, when he needs to draw a face that conveys emotion, he’s still bringing the goods.  It just isn’t quite as crisp and sharp as what we used to get from Adlard, but until the storytelling suffers, I’d prefer to keep the book coming out on time.

Conclusion: Some pretty big events for Carl in this issue portend explosive action to come.

Grade: B

– Dean Stell

Grade

Conclusion


12 Responses

  1. Scott T says:

    I am hoping that Negan takes Carl under his wing and tries to Brainwash him, like how they do to children in Uganda. Capture young kids and train them to be loyal killers. That would be crazy to have Carl live with Negan for like a year and become one of them and then have to face his Dad down the road. Might work, since he thinks his Dad is weak for backing down … and a little crazy (he caught him talking to Lori on the phone).

    • dfstell says:

      That is definitely one of the enticing possibilities!

    • Adam W Hurst says:

      I wonder if this wasnt Rick and Carl’s plan. There was a scene in a recent issue (to lazy to see which exactly 102 or 103) where Rick comes in to Carl’s bedroom to say something that we never hear. Probably not the most likely thing but who knows.

  2. Scott T says:

    However he takes it I’m on board. I feel energized about this title again. I really thought the 70’s -late 90’s where kind of weak.

    • dfstell says:

      Yeah….it really did kinda drift there for awhile. I mean, there were very good moments, but also a lot of spinning wheels. Like, remember that plot where the residents of the community were going to rise up against Rick? Or the plot where Michonne couldn’t deal with living in a civilized society?

      We’ll never know for sure (probably), but it reminded me of sometimes when I’m writing a review and I get 1200 words in and say, “God….this is total crap. I should just start over.” Except that Kirkman had already published it.

      I do think that one reason that creator-owned comics can suffer is if there’s nobody pushing the creators and challenging them the way a good editor should.

      Plus…..I’m sure he was busy as hell with the launch of the TV show and all the various and sundry novels, video games, etc.

  3. Gwise says:

    That’s the impression I got from this issue as to where they were going. Or, Rick & Co might show up guns blazing and a very brainwashed CARL might tell them to get lost; he was with Negan now! That would put Rick in the very awkward position of having no way to convince his people that everything he did was an act, and he’d actually have to continue being a collaborator to protect his son.

    • dfstell says:

      That would be kinda clever, huh? The really good news for me is that this seems to be moving along pretty rapidly, so maybe we’ll know the answer in the next few months.

    • Scott T says:

      I like that, it gives Rick a good reason to succumb to Negans will, with out the reader thinking he just gave up and is weak. The Rick we know wouldn’t just give in to Negan lightly, not even because of the death of Glenn. He has fought and lost too much for that to happen. But for his son, I think he would if that was the only option. This whole series is basically, Rick doing whatever it takes for his family’s survival.

  4. socrates81 says:

    I thought this was a great issue too. The idea that Carl gets brainwashed is an interesting one that can’t be ruled out in WD, where usually the worst that can happen will happen!
    I’m really excited to see what Rick does next issue.

    • dfstell says:

      That seems to be the consensus desire/fear of everyone. It’ll be interesting to see just how sick and twisted Kirkman will make it.

  5. Justin P says:

    I have to wonder how many “communities” exist in the world if there are this many in just the 30 mile radius we are talking about here.

    Just from the general atmosphere of Negan’s enclosure, I don’t really follow how it functions in such large numbers. I mean Rick has had to deal with a number of insurgents and he has almost never faced people who are as hardened as Negan and some of his guys seem to be (I’m speaking in reference to Negan maintaining control). The guy with the burned face, probably got it from Negan, alone seems to have some issues with the guy and they hide things from him. Plus, the dude has lost at least 25 men since he has been introduced. I just can’t imagine something like that existing for very long. It just seems like the kind of thing that would eat itself from the inside, but doesn’t exactly get new recruits. You know like the Orcs from Mordor. They all kill each other, but are replaced at a faster rate.

    I find it weird that at first encounter The Saviors seemed to be more like a crazy cult. Where they were all Negan…but, then Negan just turns out to be a high school bully with a propensity for Tarantino movies. Maybe he can dodge bullets too, it’s yet to be seen. If I had to guess it seemed like the cult idea was scrapped and they just changed it on the fly. It’s acceptable that a few would worship him as such.

    I’m interested in these concerns being addressed as we get to explore the new compound through Carl’s eyes.

    • dfstell says:

      Thanks a lot! :) Haha……I usually wonder about this stuff, but hadn’t questioned it before. Now I’m going to see the flaws. Haha…. :)

      I do have a problem with a nasty guy like Negan leading such a seemingly large group. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me given my world view and opinions on human nature. I kinda think that for a society to become that large (and it seems like he’s got a lot of dudes in there), there would have to be some structure beyond “being big and strong”. I mean, if you’re leading 100 murderist/rapists/looters, even if you could kick all of their asses in a fair fight, one of them would always be stabbing you in the back or murdering you in your sleep. Even tough guys aren’t that hard to kill.

      I would think more of the large groups would be like Arlington or Hilltop where the peaceful folks have worked out a way to work together. And when they had someone who was a problem, they’d just put them outside the walls. Those nasty people might form groups of 5-10, but I have a hard time seeing them rallying together.

      But, I’ve got problems with a lot of the “factual” things in TWD. I don’t understand why they’re out of ammo, I don’t understand why there isn’t more effort towards zombie clearing. Why isn’t there more farming, etc. Why does the gasoline still seem to work just fine when gas left in my garage over winter can go bad?

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