|THE WALKING DEAD No. 117, November 2013|
There is little doubt that “The Walking Dead” is an “Image Comics” title aimed towards the more mature comic book reader. During its long run it has dealt with a number of adult themes and atrocities, probably the least of which is walking cadavers trying to eat people’s brains… or any other part of them that the Undead can sink their decaying teeth into. But even so, this third instalment of the “All Out War” story-arc makes for some extremely disturbing reading material.
In fact the sheer crudeness of the sexual profanities contained within its dialogue and the attempted rape scene which occupies the issue’s final five pages, whilst arguably realistic given the circumstances, is also repulsively repellent. The vast majority of this distastefulness is down to the storyline’s main antagonist Negan, who dominates the proceedings, even when the comic’s plot has moved away from the Saviour’s base and is focussing on Rick Grimes motivating his own people.
Indeed Robert Kirkman seems incapable of writing any scene featuring the ‘sociopathic king’ without the character profusely swearing and wantonly utilising sexual imagery in order to provoke a reaction from those around him. None of this is subtly delivered and arguably necessary either. But it is shocking, and definitely provides something of a barometer as to both how bad things are and how stressed the Sanctuary’s leader is; Negan’s twelve-word expletive-exclusive outburst when he realises he has just twenty-fours to clear the zombie horde trapping him or he’ll die, being one of the highlights of the comic.
Unfortunately what this book has in vulgarities it lacks in action, as the title’s co-creator seems to use the Saviour’s incarceration of Holly as an opportunity to squander page after page with suspenseful yet sedentary dialogue-driven scenes. Indeed it is quite clear from both the plodding pacing, and the numerous Charlie Adlard large-panel illustrations, that this twenty-two page publication was having to be created fast; bi-weekly fast. It is certainly hard to believe Kirkman’s boast at the time that he had “…a rough outline for the next two hundred issues...”
Even so the book’s British artist still manages to draw a few moments of manically busy mayhem as Negan, armed with his barbed-wired baseball bat ‘Lucille’, confidently leads a group of his men out of their industrial base only to almost become swallowed up by a vast horde of the Undead.
|Writer: Robert Kirkman, Artist: Charlie Adlard, and Inker: Stefano Gaudiano|