|THE WALKING DEAD No. 118, December 2013|
When creator Robert Kirman stated that “There will always be small moments with the characters, as they live and survive in this world…” just before this issue of “The Walking Dead” was published, it is doubtful many fans anticipated just such a ‘time’ for some of the secondary supporting cast was at hand. Though few would probably feel Maggie Greene’s argument with Gregory at the start of the comic is a tiny episode; not when it takes a whopping seven pages for the enraged widower to simply knock the Hilltop Colony on his backside and tell the rest of the community that she believes in Rick Grimes.
Indeed the heated discussion, though reasonably well-paced despite its heavy dialogue, smacks of the writer and Charlie Adlard desperately trying to 'fill out' the early part of this chapter to “All Out War”. Why else would the British artist settle for drawing one of the worst double-page illustrations arguably created for the title ever? In fact the portrait of Green actually only takes up one side of the picture, with a solitary speech bubble containing just five words, apparently requiring the entirety of the space afforded by the second sheet.
Fortunately the Englishman starts to once again hit his creative stride during the second half of the book as Rick and his army begin attacking the Saviors' outposts. As a result by the time the frantic action works its way to Ezekiel’s failed assault there is plenty of emotion, suspense, tension and danger to attract the attention. Especially as it quickly becomes clear the “King” is in imminent danger of either being shot or, possibly worse, bitten.
The dynamic drawings of the one-time zookeeper slowly being overwhelmed by the walking cadavers and suddenly panicking as realisation dawns upon him that the zombies are now his biggest threat, not Negan’s men, are terrific. It is certainly all too easy to imagine the terror of his pulse-pounding flight into the woodland, and horror as the clawing corpses start to assail him once again as he falls backwards into a small stream.
Sadly the mighty Shiva’s heroic demise at the hands of a horde of Undead is as swift as the tiger’s appearance is sudden. It is somewhat disappointing that so formidable a beast is overpowered so quickly. Though the handful of panels depicting the animal’s death are still impactive enough to cause the reader to be eminently sympathetic to the haunted gloomy features upon Ezekiel’s face at the end of the narrative.