|THE WALKING DEAD No. 124, March 2014|
Creator Robert Kirkman arguably increased the anticipation for this tenth instalment of “The Walking Dead” mega-event “All Out War”, when he announced shortly before its publication that fans would “learn [Rick Grimes’] final fate” inside the issue. But any bibliophiles expecting to see “Image Comics” main protagonist meet his ultimate end within this book’s twenty-two pages were doubtless bitterly disappointed, as the wounded ex-lawman’s destiny is left decidedly open to interpretation by the time Hilltop’s Doctor Carson declares that 'anyone who was injured by one of the Saviours' weapons… "will die.”
However that isn’t to say that this magazine doesn’t fully live up to the American writer’s promise that “there are going to be a good number of deaths." Because there most certainly are and many of them come as a result of Negan’s men using the pitch black night to get in ‘close and dirty’ with their infected blades. Fortunately such an undignified end to the titular character is narrowly averted by the one-time Kentucky police deputy’s forethought and cunning. For no sooner are the surviving settlers about to be overrun by their murderous counterparts than the colonists' spring their well-timed trap and from their central residence's windows gun down as many of the psychopathic leader’s followers as their dwindling bullets will allow.
Having provided such a pulse-poundingly good first half, it is somewhat disappointing, though entirely understandable, that the comic publishers' executive producer slows things down quite significantly for the rest of the read. Indeed, such a change in pace is probably crucial in order for readers to ponder the dire drawn-out fate of those unlucky enough to have been cut by Negan’s ‘biologically poisoned melee weapons’.
Interestingly such a ‘pause in proceedings’ also provides Kirkman with the opportunity to introduce some ‘zombie action’ into the narrative, something which has arguably been badly underused throughout this multi-issue story-arc. Indeed, what with the undead’s prominent presence at the start of the issue, when an edgy Carson panics at their close proximity to the van he’s driving, and then the roamers later penetrating the Hilltop’s shattered defences, more attention is given to the flesh-eating walking cadavers in this periodical than has been experienced in a good while.
Adding just as much to this edition’s success as its writing, is Charlie Adlard’s workmanlike pencils. Much of this comic’s well-defined pacing is down to the British artist’s multi-panelled pages and large double-splash illustrations. Which despite predominantly depicting events occurring in near total darkness, and being published in the grey tones of Cliff Rathburn, still provide more than enough detail for the reader to readily follow what is taking place within them.
|Writer: Robert Kirkman, Penciller: Charlie Adlard, and Inker: Stefano Gaudiano|