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

The Story: Things look grim for Rick.  Is he really untouchable?

Review (with SPOILERS): Well, that was a tease! And not in a good way either.  The last couple of issues have shown Rick making a hasty assassination attempt on Negan’s life, only to see Negan completely out-maneuver Rick by having an entire squad of unseen snipers at his disposal.  Then last issue consisted of Negan menacing people with his bat while Andrea fought for her life against a dude with a machete; it seemed she had fallen to her death, but the cliffhanger revealed that she was very much alive an ready to continue the fight.

Thus, there was a lot of promise to this issue.  So many things could have happened, but as it turns out the issue was (mostly) a big wet fart.

The issue really started with a bit of promise.  The scene where one of Rick’s men is pleading for his life because he has a wife and children who need him was really solid.  I can totally understand such a sentiment, but Negan took it another direction: Basically, someone(s) has to die for the assassination attempt on Negan.  Everyone knows that SOMEONE has to die as punishment.  So, this guy is essentially asking for someone else to die in his place and Negan thinks this is a pretty cowardly attitude.  When you put it that way, Negan has a good point.  It’s probably easy to want someone abstract and faceless to die in your place, but somehow worse when you’re basically suggesting that it be the guy sitting next to you (although I did like Heath’s explanation, “He’s scared.  We’re all scared.”)

And then the issue veered into the toilet…

Seeing Jesus and Ezekiel/Tiger show up to save the day was just so lame.  Even though it was kinda cool to see Jesus beating Negan up or to see the tiger actually devouring the bad guy in the background of a few panels, Kirkman has made a bit of an error with this heroic save.

The problem is that TWD thrives on the “anything can happen, anyone can die!” concept.  Even though notable deaths have been few and far between for a LONG time, this is still a dangerous comic book.  When you read X-Men, Avengers or Batman (which I do), you know that Wolverine, Batman and Captain America aren’t going to die.  And if they DO die, then there will be a miniseries called, “Search for Wolverine” in a few months that brings the character back from Hell or whatever.  In TWD, when a character dies…..THAT’S IT.  You will not see them again…..just like real life.

So when a series gets to the point where it puts “untouchable” characters in danger just to contrive a rescue  – well – that’s a problem.  Now you’ve got cliffhangers that scream, “How will the caped crusader escape the Joker’s molten pit of lava!  Tune in next week to find out!”  The rescue by Jesus and Ezekiel is just too convenient and timely and the way this whole thing builds up to a “war” just seems very comic-booky.  I mean, launching and marketing an event with multiple issues stalling for time until the event is “ready” is what they do at Marvel and DC.  I read TWD to escape from that.

I also really don’t buy Jesus’ whole speech to Rick about how Rick is the leader they need.  The problem is that I don’t believe it myself.  Rick just doesn’t have the charisma to be the “leader people want”.  Rick is effective and is willing to make the hard decisions; Rick is the #2 to the charismatic leader who offers inspiration and vision but lacks execution.  That’s why Rick was a cop in his prior life and not the mayor.  Negan has charisma coming out of his pores.  Ezekiel has it too.  Rick simply doesn’t.  I don’t mean to say that Rick couldn’t be effective, but I just don’t believe it when Jesus says (basically), “Rick….you don’t know how these people look at you.  You offer hopes and dreams.  You’re the leader they want!”  Rick would make a better lieutenant to Ezekiel than a leader in his own right.

The art is strong (again).  The main thing about TWD is that the storytelling is just so damn clear.  I’m trying to remember the last time I read an issue and had to shuffle back a few pages to understand something.  However, Charlie Adlard had better bust out the pen that he’s used for Negan and start pouring some of that charisma on Rick because I’m not buying Rick as Spartacus.

Conclusion: An issue that shows that the last few issues were nothing more than spinning the tires.  It’s really patronizing when a comic does that after so many issues.  Get on with it!

Grade: C-

-Dean Stell



  • Michael Brown

    I knew we were wading into the fantastic when Ezekiel started the karate stuff. The fact that he can gain the upper hand although Negan’s men are holding the guns is silly. Damn I look for the realism in TWD and Kirkman throws this unbelievable rescue scene in there. I was expecting Andrea to start shooting (once she walked down from the tower), Negan’s men scatter, Rick’s people regroup and we go from there. Andrea is tough, she knows her people need her. She would have crawled over broken glass to help them.

  • Andrew

    I disagree with your assertion that rick is not charismatic. He’s decisive and quick on his feet, and he always has a plan of action (even if it’s not a good one). It’s qualities like those that people are drawn too. I think why negan and ezekial come across as more charismatic is the fact that they each have such unique and bombastic ways of talking. Rick however, is a pretty straightforward guy and so leaves less of an impression on the readers sometimes than negan does. I’d much rather follow a guy like rick than negan or ezekial, both of whom it could be argued are downright strange. This is why Jesus proclaims that Rick is the leader they need. Ezekial might be loved by his own people but he’s just too weird for anyone outside his community to take seriously. Then you have Gregory who’s a coward and a bit pathetic. It’s not like the competition here is fierce. On another note, the tiger attack in this issue was ridiculous but I enjoyed it. However, it could definitely be argued that the resolution in this issue was a cheat

    • dfstell

      I think you’re kinda saying the same thing. Rick is lacking that charm that great leaders have. He’s effective and competent.

      It’s important to note that charisma and competence aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s just that people tend to overrate charisma, so you see lots of charismatic leaders get into positions where they prove unqualified. And even then, it isn’t that the charismatic guy is totally worthless….he’s just got promoted a little too high (and then people have faith in him and often don’t put the proper support structures in place to help him succeed).

      In fact, I’d argue that both Negan and Ezekiel are both charismatic and competent. They obviously have charm and they’re both running a functioning society (in their own way). You’re right that Gregory is no warlord, but even though he is a coward, he’s also the one who has built the best society. They’ve got kids, farming, schools, blacksmiths making stuff……he just pays his taxes to Negan and moves on with life.

      I think we’re in total agreement about the tiger. It was cool seeing the tiger actually eating the guy, but also a total cheat after we spent two issues building up to the terrible threat of Negan bludgeoning someone.