|THE WALKING DEAD No. 127, June 2014|
Considering that this edition of Robert Kirkman’s “black-and-white” comic book was a double-sized publication and ranked as the eighth best-selling title of May 2014 by “Diamond Comic Distributors”, it arguably would not be unreasonable to assume that its lengthy narrative contained twice the action found within the series’ previous “All Out War” story-arc… And indeed for the first few pages of this hefty periodical the Kentucky-born editor would appear to be scripting just that, as “a group of survivors led by Magna” are savagely set upon by “a gigantic herd of over a thousand roamers.” Overwhelming numbers of zombies, a desperate defiant last-ditch stand and poor Bernie being literally eaten alive by the cannibalistic cadavers, all form part of a dramatically gripping sequence which surely must have gotten this magazine’s 71,352 readers as excited about this “New Beginning” as the always-hungry undead apparently were having inadvertently been herded towards their next potential meal by Paul Monroe.
Disappointingly however, once the initial terror and confusion of the attack is over, and the Washington-bound party are safely evacuated on horseback by Heath and Eugene Porter, the “Image Comics” partner’s storyline quickly reverts back to the stale, dialogue-heavy tedium of earlier issues. In fact little genuinely appears to have changed within the hamlet of Alexandria, despite the apparent passage of time since the community’s battle with Negan, and as a result its inhabitants seemingly have little to do but wish one another a good morning and squabble about how long it’s going to take Siddiq to have the settlement ready for “the Fair.” Hardly the most enthralling of subjects for a plot set within the hellish confines of a post zombie apocalypse world.
Equally as apathetic as the lack-lustre, drearily dull writing of Kirkman, is Charlie Adlard’s competent but ‘run of the mill’ illustrations. The British penciller’s artwork depicting Magna and her group quickly realising they are about to be ‘drowned’ in a tidal wave of the living dead is scintillatingly suspenseful, and the characters’ alarm and terror is plain to see in both their wide shocked eyes and tensely drawn faces.
The former “Judge Dredd” artist also somehow manages to convey a real sense of strength and power to the zombie horde as they mindlessly overturn a large metal container through sheer weight of numbers and then start feasting upon the horses who were drawing it along. Sadly though, once events reallocate to the somewhat idyllic safe-zone, and all attention turns to a fully-bearded, noticeably older Rick Grimes, complete with medieval-looking prosthetic hand, then the dynamic energy of Adlard’s drawing style swiftly diminishes and is replaced by an endless series of lifeless panels showing the former sheriff either standing and talking, walking and talking, and, by the end of a long day, sitting and talking…
|Writer: Robert Kirkman, Penciller: Charlie Adlard, and Inker: Stefano Gaudiano|