By: Robert Kirkman (writer), Charlie Adlard (artist), Cliff Rathburn (gray tones), Rus Wooton (letters)
The Story: Rick goes to meet the leader of another enclave of people.
The Review (SPOILER ALERT): 1. A bigger view of the world. - Even most fans of TWD have wanted a bigger worldview of the landscape that the zombies and survivors have created. While Kirkman isn’t showing us other parts of the world, we ARE getting the more wide-angle view of the world with all these enclaves around Washington, DC. Counting Ezekiel’s “Kingdom,” that makes FOUR little human settlements (with Arlington, Hilltop and Negan-ville being the others) and you get the sense that there could be more communities in the vicinity. Suddenly we have room in the series for “extra” characters. That’s a very different thing for a series that made its bones as a story where all the characters could sleep inside Dale’s RV.
It also allows us to draw some conclusions about the rest of the world. Wouldn’t it make sense that other large cities would have similar networks of survivors? So, we’re talking about a world that still has a decent number of people remaining. Why has nobody gotten a ham radio running yet? And why do the zombies still have clothes?
2. Ezekiel is just strange. - What a weird set-up Ezekiel has! I mean, he calls himself “King,” he holds court on an old theatre stage, he requires his milita scouts to speak like old fashioned knights and he has a pet tiger. Ezekiel seems like a pretty placid dude, but I’m not sure that anyone can rise to a leadership position in TWD without having a hard edge about them. Tigers eat ~50 pounds of meat per day according to wiki.answers.com. What is he feeding that thing? Does he let it loose to hunt? Does he feed small children to it?
While I think Ezekiel is interesting, I find him a little implausible. I tend to think that a TWD-like scenario where every community has the same basic engineering constraints in terms of keeping zombies out, worrying about bandits, feeding the populace, etc… would tend to produce very similar types of communities and leaders. The communities that tried weird things would quickly fail and all development would bottleneck towards what works.
3. Revolution? - It sounds like things could go badly for Negan. It’s funny how different Negan looked in this issue. He’s still kinda captivating when he’s on the page, but this time he looked like the bully that doesn’t know his own days are numbered. I mean, he’s playing ping-pong with people who let him win and having sex with other men’s wives as everyone stares daggers at him. Meanwhile all the little people are discussing how to team-up and take him down. Negan is going to get murdered.
I really like Negan as a character, and part of that is because he seems pretty realistic to me. I think you’d get a LOT of Negans in the zombie apocalypse, but that they’d have a pretty short lifespan once people realized they could gang-up on the bully. Is Negan going to be something more? Will he fall only for Rick to realize that Ezekiel isn’t as friendly as he seemed? Will Negan have a secret plan up his sleeve? I’m curious to see how it all turns out, but also a little nervous because I’m starting to think about the real-life likelihood of these events; which is always dangerous for enjoyment of a story.
4. Minor items getting a few pages. - I swear, Kirkman is obviously giving Charlie Adlard a few softballs for the original art market. What else should we think of a splash page of Michonne and Carl killing zombies? It’s not a great splash page either. As an aside, the original art market for any page featuring Michonne has gone INSANE. I’ve had people offer me 10x what I originally paid for one of my Michonne pages and it isn’t even a very good page.
Kidding aside, it’s interesting to see what Kirkman is doing with Michonne. We see her saving Carl. We see her complaining to Andrea about how she’s losing it. We see her regretting her impulsive advances on Heath. Hmm… Michonne is such an interesting character and I’m hoping that Kirkman sticks with this storyline. I feel like I already know everything I need to know about Rick. He’s just a tour-guide at this point. Michonne still has layers to uncover.
Also, what’s this ominous crap about Spencer praying about what “must be done?” Remember, Spencer is the guy who was hitting on Andrea and she rejected him. Whatever Spencer’s planning, it doesn’t look good. I’m almost more curious about this than whatever happens with Rick, Ezekiel and Negan.
5. Quality art - Charlie Adlard’s art has changed a good bit over the last couple of years. To my untrained eye, it has become murkier, less detailed, etc… Those are not things that usually appeal to me and I can’t say that I’m as eager to own Charlie Adlard original art as I used to be. There certainly are fewer pages that make me say, “wow!” But, I almost don’t care about the “beauty” of TWD as long as the storytelling is accurate and Adlard hasn’t dipped one bit on that front. I’m never confused about what is going on or the way he constructs a scene. Honestly, I wish more comics took the TWD approach with a singular artist who focuses on timeliness and storytelling over splashy images.
Conclusion: Kind of a weird issue… It does show us even more of the broader world and that’s good. But, we step away from some of the bigger philosophical questions that TWD has been playing with.
– Dean Stell