|THE WALKING DEAD No. 121, February 2014|
Even the magazine’s start, which at least contains an element of horror and suspense as a lazy ammunitions worker foolishly allows a gang of flesh-eating zombies into Eugene’s work area, proves a rather confusing read at first as there isn’t anything within the text to indicate who these characters actually are or where the action is taking place. It isn't until after the roamers have overrun the building and Charlie Adlard provides an impressive double-page illustration of Negan and his men preparing to gun the undead down that all becomes a bit clearer just as to who these people are.
Doubtless aficionados of the title would have immediately recognised Rick Grimes’ whiskered, pony-tailed arms manufacturer. But for those less familiar with the supporting cast, a simple text balloon would have avoided any disorientation. Especially when the Saviours were last seen high-tailing it away from Alexandria. Thus making it all too easy to wrongly assume that the events depicted were actually taking place back at The Sanctuary, and the homicidal leader had returned to his base just ‘in the nick of time.’
However at least this scene, packed full of panic and terror was entertaining, because what follows, although living up to Kirkman’s determination for the series to tell “a bit of story”, provides very little excitement. Instead it is apparent that the handful of grenades thrown into the community during Negan’s attack caused infinitely more damage than first thought, with “about half” of the settlement’s houses being lost or burnt down... In addition Heath has lost a leg, Ezekiel has lost his nerve and Denise Cloyd has died. Yet Carl, despite having had a grenade explode directly behind him, causing the youth to be knocked momentarily unconscious, is unrealistically fine and feels able to call his concussed father a “wimp.”
What is impressive, especially considering the sedentary nature of so many of the scenes, is the quality of Adlard’s artwork. Possibly by this seventh instalment of “All Out War”, the illustrator had acclimatized to the accelerated publication schedule and developed a rhythm with Stefano Gaudiano; who had purposely been hired as inker in order to keep the British penciller on schedule. Whatever the reason, the Shrewsbury-born drawer really manages to capture a lot of hurt, pain and pathos in the looks and faces of the characters. And whilst his full-page offerings are competent enough, Adlard’s attention to detail with quivering lips, watery eyes and the haunted features of Rick Grimes and others is stunning.
|Writer: Robert Kirkman, Penciller: Charlie Adlard, and Inker: Stefano Gaudiano|