|THE WALKING DEAD No. 120, January 2014|
Whilst far from the “five-minute read” earlier chapters in this twelve-issue story-arc have been criticised for being, this sixth instalment of “All Out War” still arguably just provides the illusion of an exciting action-packed comic book. For although the storyline concentrates exclusively upon Negan and his men surrounding and subsequently attacking the Alexandria Safe-Zone, not a great deal of death and destruction actually takes place… and with the exception of an extremely short-lived biter rampage by a zombified Holly, there isn’t much attention paid to the living dead either.
Indeed as sieges go, the entire operation appears to be a half-hearted seemingly lack-lustre effort by the Saviours’ leader, as he orders his subordinates to just stand outside the settlement’s perimeter and throw grenades over the enclosure’s fence. Admittedly such a tactic catches Rick Grimes’ people momentarily off-guard, costing former supply-runner Heath a limb and knocking Carl senseless. But other than that, casualties are actually few and far between until the beleaguered community starts fighting back, greatly assisted by both the betrayal of Dwight and the arrival of Maggie Greene and some heavily armed survivors from the Hilltop Colony.
Even then, so swift is Negan’s ‘retreat’ back towards The Sanctuary that there is little opportunity for much more to happen before the book’s conclusion; and a real head-scratcher of a cliff-hanger Robert Kirkman has penned as well. For despite having suffered some presumably significant losses as a result of Maggie’s involvement towards the tail end of the ‘battle’, and his seemingly ineffective attempt to ‘blow’ Rick Grimes’ community to pieces, the psychopathic tyrant still seems utterly convinced that the settlement is finished and his adversary defeated. Clearly the neighbourhood has been damaged by the explosions, and is aflame as a result. But it is hardly the definitive end Negan claims it to be.
The American writer’s removal of Carl to the infirmary is equally as illogical, bearing in mind it is currently being managed by an infected Denise Cloyd. Initially providing the dazed child with a bed there may well seem like a reasonable course of action but the former police officer knows his son’s carer could be about to turn into a zombie. So why when the youngster is hurt and vulnerable would you leave him groggy and defenceless with such a person… unless you were clumsily trying to cause the reader to be concerned that the general practitioner might try and bite Grimes’ boy in a future plot twist?
Visually Charlie Adred provides some solid competent pencilling to all these happenings, with inker Stefano Gaudiano and Cliff Rathburn on gray tones really adding some extra depth and life to the drawings. The British comic book artist genuinely excels at depicting action, and as a result his illustrations of Dwight mercilessly gunning down his fellow Saviours and the Hilltop colonists’ arrival ‘guns a blazing’ are both vivid and energetic, even if somewhat gory.
|Writer: Robert Kirkman, Penciller: Charlie Adlard, and Inker: Stefano Gaudiano|