Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Walking Dead #121 - Image Comics

THE WALKING DEAD No. 121, February 2014
When franchise creator Robert Kirkman discussed the “All Out War” multi-issue story-arc with the comic book press just before the ‘major event’ first went to print, he stated that not only would there be “quite a bit going on” but that the tenth anniversary celebratory adventure was “going to be very fast paced.” Unfortunately, after a somewhat promising beginning, there is little of that action-orientated story-telling on display within the twenty-two pages of Issue One Hundred and Twenty One of “The Walking Dead”. What the disappointing comic does contain however are a sequence of dialogue-driven scenes, interspersed by single and double-splash pages, which are both instantly forgettable and presumably employed (once again) to simply make up the book’s quite considerable page-count.

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


  1. You really don't seem to be enjoying this story arc Bk! Too much talky not enough chop and slash? Your not turning into a gorehound are you?

    1. To be honest Bob, I was mulling over that question having just read #122. I'm not sure what I was expecting but with the title "All Out War" I was kind of expecting something a bit better than this. Its just so hard going imho and I can see why certain parts of Kirkman's fanbase have accused him of concentrating more on the TV series and less on this comic. All I would raise is would "TWD" be the success it is today, if its earlier storylines had been paced the way this one is? I'd have to say 'No.' But others may disagree...

  2. You raise a lot of fair points in your reviews that I hadn't considered due to me reading the graphic novels. Yes, a lot of the story is more talk than action and yes, earlier stories were far more exciting. Still, I'm sticking with it because when it's good it's really very good. Plus, it would be madness to stop now!

    1. Bryan, I'm glad I'm at least making some sense as I am finding this "All Out War" a bit of a hard read. I wholly agree that this title is currently probably a far better read as a graphic novel or in binges, but even when this current story-arc has supposedly delivered an action-issue I find it a disappointment. As comics go I simply think that these days there are better Zed titles out there. I also agree though that it would be madness for a "TWD" devotee such as yourself to "stop now." :-)