|THE WALKING DEAD No. 128, June 2014|
Up until its depiction of Ken and Marco encountering several zombies “somewhere in the woods outside the Hilltop Colony” mid-way through its narrative, this second instalment of the story-arc “A New Beginning” appears to struggle to portray anything even remotely interesting to anyone but the most die-hard of “The Walking Dead” fans, with its unglamorous emphasis upon Eugene Porter’s failing relationship with Rosita, Carl’s ever-improving wood-whittling skills and Olivia’s “amazing” ability to bake loaves of bread. In fact it is genuinely hard to imagine a more mundane series of scenes with which to greet this “horror” comic book’s 74,326 readers, especially as Robert Kirkman’s tale then ‘trumps’ them all by dedicating five whole panels of the book to the ‘Head of the Ammo Crew’ simply walking into his empty home; “You here?”
Fortunately, as aforementioned, the sheer tedium of so stultifying a script is eventually broken by the sudden (and most welcome) appearance of a horde of carnivorous cadavers and the prospect of one of them devouring a somewhat reckless horse wrangler and his ride. Packed full of suspense despite being a somewhat brief encounter, this five-page return to the sort of action which has made the Richmond-born writer’s title enjoy such international success, genuinely brings home just how dangerous a place this post-apocalypse world is. For one moment the duo are driving their steeds onwards in the hope of heading off some wild horses “before they break away”, and then with just the turn of a page, the humans are knee-deep in the living dead with Ken pinned beneath his mare looking straight into the ghoulish eyes of a zombie as it struggles to crawl towards him moaning “Grarr!”
Disappointingly however, such a well-scribed piece of drama is dishearteningly short-lived and all too-soon the “Image Comics” partner has once again slowed the pace of his story-telling down to a snail’s crawl with the wearisome worries of a full-bearded Rick Grimes and the adolescent angst of the former police deputy’s frustrated son.
Such a sluggish chain of events is arguably made even more dissatisfying an experience by Charlie Adlard’s seemingly desperate determination to ‘pad out’ his page-count for this book. Admittedly the British artist’s full-on splash of Ken inadvertently riding his horse into the ground as it careers into a forest full of zombies proves to be the highlight of this magazine, and certainly does an incredible job of capturing one’s attention. But that doesn’t excuse the penciller utilizing a similar-sized single-panel to depict Alexandria’s windmill, nor the double-spread of a despairing Negan hammering the wall of his cell…
|Writer: Robert Kirkman, Penciller: Charlie Adlard, and Inker: Stefano Gaudiano|