|THE WALKING DEAD No. 126, April 2014|
Having ‘sucker-knifed’ the psychopathic tyrant Negan at the conclusion of the previous edition, many of the 67,853 buyers who purchased Issue One Hundred and Twenty Six of “The Walking Dead” in April 2014 may well have figured that the one-time Police Deputy’s ‘six-month’ long battle with the murderous Saviours was already over. Indeed creator Robert Kirkman appears to initially reinforce such a sentiment within the opening few panels of this comic by depicting Sanctuary’s astonished despot submissively sinking to his knees before a victorious Rick Grimes; "It's done! The war is over! Surrender and allow us to take him, and we will not attack."
Fortunately however, any reader thinking that this would mean an easy ride for the Hilltop settlement’s survivors and little more than a dialogue-heavy character-driven final instalment to “All Out War”, were in for a pleasant surprise at just the turn of a page. For having dropped his wicked-looking baseball bat Lucille, the former cars salesman turned “maniac” somehow manages to dig deep and promptly starts giving the one-handed “de facto” encampment leader a considerable beating.
Such a one-on-one, man-to-man confrontation between the title’s two main adversaries has been something fans of this series have been spoiling for since the two characters first met… And the subsequent brutal fist-fight, which results with at least one broken limb, does not disappoint. Especially as the Kentucky-born writer intersperses its blow by blow account with the chaotic close combat of Michonne and Paul “Jesus” Monroe battling Negan’s remaining men.
Sadly such a cataclysmic finale is over all-too soon, leaving two thirds of the book to once again be populated with little more than Grimes delivering another of his sanctimoniously nauseating sermons on how “we can remake the world we remember… and we can make it better.” Admittedly there is a slightly unsettling scene towards the mega-event’s very end, as Carl, believing his father to be wrong in sparing his hated foe’s life, decides to shoot the helpless bedridden butcher. But even this proves an anti-climax as Rick ‘instantly’ talks his young son down from committing such a cold-blooded murder, and thus ‘smacks’ of simply being yet another of Kirkman’s ‘fillers’ for so horribly overextended a narrative.
Arguably penciller Charlie Adlard also demonstrates he was as equally tired of this storyline by this stage as some of the mega-event's followers were, by producing some quite inconsistent artwork for large parts of the magazine. The Shrewsbury-born illustrator’s depiction of Negan and Grimes pounding away at one another amidst the carnage of a pitched battle is wonderfully drawn and readily captures the frenzied nature of the vicious hand-to-hand fighting. But as soon as the action stops and thus all attention is then turned to the bedroom of a recuperating Rick, the Englishman starts ‘padding out’ his panels with little more than the same reoccurring and regurgitated poses.
|Writer: Robert Kirkman, Penciller: Charlie Adlard, and Inker: Stefano Gaudiano|