|THE WALKING DEAD No. 116, November 2013|
For a comic containing such a tremendously high bullet count, there is actually a remarkably low number of deaths in this issue of “The Walking Dead”. In fact the villain of the piece Negan probably uses more profanities and expletives in this book than there are corpses… ‘shot dead’ ones anyway. But that in no way means this edition’s twenty-two pages aren’t crammed full of action, tension and excitement, as they most definitely are; more than ever once Rick Grime’s combined forces begin attracting a veritable wave of zombies to The Sanctuary with their withering firepower.
Particularly impressive is co-creator Robert Kirkman’s delivery of what could so easily have been a rather typical and tired ‘storming’ of a fortified site plot. Instead the confrontation between Grimes and Negan is very much played out like a game of chess, with the savage hard-nosed despot making an ill-fated first move which results in only eight Hilltop men deserting the survivors. However the former Cynthiana police deputy’s counter response is seemingly less productive until it becomes apparent that his group’s shooting served a dual purpose; being both a distraction and an enticement for a nearby horde of shambling cadavers.
Another impressive storytelling technique is the American comic book writer’s use of Negan and the disciplinarian’s reactions to the ebb and flow of events as they occur. Confident and sneering when he believes half of Grime’s army is going to disperse, then gregariously self-effacing once he realises that’s not the case. The comic’s main antagonist leaps from one emotional extreme to another. But in doing so provides the reader with some genuine insight as to just how badly the Savior’s fortunes are going. Especially when the supremely self-assured tyrant starts cursing and swearing upon seeing his fortifications fences and barricades penetrated by ‘the walking dead’; courtesy of a pick-up truck driven by a determined Holly.
Charlie Adlard’s artwork is competent throughout and clearly enhanced by the labours of inker Stefano Gaudiano and Cliff Rathburn’s gray tones. However what the British illustrator clearly excels at are his animated depictions of the zombies, whether they be roamers straining at neck and wrist chains, or free walkers, half-running and stumbling towards the noise of the battle’s mayhem. Their decaying flesh, broken limbs and insatiable hunger for living flesh is superbly captured by Adlard’s pencilling; his double-page spread of a horde fast-approaching The Sanctuary being an artistic highlight of the comic.
|Writer: Robert Kirkman, Artist: Charlie Adlard, and Inker: Stefano Gaudiano|