Thursday, 29 January 2015

The Walking Dead #115 - Image Comics

THE WALKING DEAD No. 115, October 2013
As long-running comic books go “The Walking Dead” has arguably accumulated an intimidating and rich history which would be hard for any new reader to assail without first climbing a mountain of back issues or thick graphic novel reprints. The series’ character death toll alone is simply staggering and so many of these demises continue to haunt and motivate current storylines.

This particular edition however, in being the first edition to celebrate the title’s tenth anniversary and initiating the onset of the twelve-issue “All Out War” story-arc, is also in many ways a potential starting point for those unfamiliar with the franchise. It would certainly seem that publisher “Image Comics” thought so, having invested in no less than sixteen different (variant) covers for the same issue; ten of which connected together to form a tapestry of the series’ defining moments.

However, it really is hard to see why this particular book was the best-selling comic of 2013, and sold over 310,000 copies, as very little actually takes place within its pages. Indeed, Issue 115 is rather notorious for not having a single death, whether alive or zombified, in it. Not exactly the pulse-pounding start a reader might anticipate when embarking upon a six-month bi-weekly plot advertised as depicting Rick Grimes’ army of survivors battling the maniacal Negan and his murderous followers. 

What Robert Kirkman’s script does contain in abundance however, is plenty of character exploration and relationship development; heavily interspersed with some huge boring double-page spreads, which were presumably drawn by Charlie Adlard to help make up the page count. In fact it isn’t until the last couple of pages, when the former police officer arrives at the large factory known as The Sanctuary, that any sort of tension or action occurs; and then it’s essentially all-talk with plenty of profanities thrown in.

There’s also an almost total absence of zombies from this comic… Something which is hard to imagine when the book is called “The Walking Dead”. Admittedly much of the title’s long-running success has been as a result of its co-creator concentrating on people not shambling cadavers. But even so, a comic based within the zombie apocalypse should surely not wait until the penultimate panel before depicting a close-up of one and then it isn’t actually doing anything but lurching about.
The regular cover art of "THE WALKING DEAD" No. 115 by Charlie Adlard & Dave Stewart


  1. As a regular reader of this series (from issue #1 to present day) I agree with your comments for the most part but not wholly. First, this particular story arc has to be taken in context with the overall story. What went before DOES have an impact on what happens here.
    Secondly, the story has always focused more on human interaction and relationships than with killing zombies. So there was this one issue that was all talk and no zombie deaths. So what? I don't see that as a bad thing in the long term. Fair enough, as a starting point for new readers it might not be too exciting but for long term readers I can see the value of having lulls before the storm. And believe me, in this story arc, when things do kick off there are plenty of deaths.
    Finally, in one of the earlier issues, Rick described himself and his fellow survivors as "The Walking Dead." They had lost so much and changed so much that they were simply existing instead of living. It's an interesting viewpoint and made me question the series title. It seems the term "The Walking Dead" applies equally to the survivors and the zombies.

    1. Many thanks Bryan. I must confess I picked this comic up rather wary myself because of the back-history and despite reading the title for the first thirty or so issues (as graphic novels mind); and it has clearly moved on an awful lot since then.

      You're quite right that this issue needs to also be taken as one within a far larger story and as such it isn't the perfect 'step on' edition, but it is a potential one - which is my viewpoint as a returning reader unaware of the rich contextualization you refer to. But that's why I'm so delighted with your excellent commentary. Because I'm only telling half the story in my review, as something of a newbie, and you're giving a long-time reader's viewpoint. Hence you may think a lull in the death-count actually makes a refreshing change, with plenty of character build-up. Whilst I, wanting a 'pick up thrill' read was hoping for some 'zed-action' to encourage me to purchase the next issue. Hence my bitter disappointment with #115.

      Now you've mentioned it, I do recall someone referring to the survivors as "The Walking Dead". I actually thought it was an interview with Robert Kirkman where I read it, but you are spot on about it being equally as relevant to both the corpses and Grimes' gang.

      I'm obviously hoping #116 will be more in line with what I like. But whether it is or isn't please let me know your opinion as someone who has followed this journey from the start :-)

    2. Simon, I'll be only too happy to share my opinions as a long term reader of this series. I thought you might like to see Rick's quote in full, which comes at the end of issue #24 when Rick and his group are still holed up in the prison complex. It's a very powerful speech.
      "The second we put a bullet in the head of one of those undead monsters - the moment one of us drove a hammer into one of their faces, or cut off a head we became what we are! And that's just it. That's what this has come down to. You people don't know what we are. We are surrounded by the dead. We're among them and when we finally give up we become them! We're living on borrowed time here. Every minute of our life is a minute we steal from them! You see them out there. You know that when we die we become them. You think we hide behind walls to protect us from the walking dead! Don't you get it? WE ARE THE WALKING DEAD!"

    3. Much appreciated Bryan. Just gone back and re-read Volume 4 "The Heart's Desire". Terrific stuff :-)

  2. Vampifan you truly are the zombie guru. I might even just overlook this SDE episode your having.

    1. To be honest Bob, I'm scared to death now to post another "Walking Dead" issue review because I know Bryan will be watching and taking note ;-) Plus he's got me into SDE too now...!!

    2. You guys are making me blush right now!

    3. Well deserved praise Bryan :-)