|THE WALKING DEAD No. 130, August 2014|
Featuring a wonderfully tense and nerve-wracking beginning, as an imprisoned Negan unsuccessfully attempts to convince Magna and her group that he is being tortured by Rick, and then a fantastically chilling scene depicting Marco and Ken hiding from a horde of zombies in a somewhat waterlogged ditch, “There Were Whispers And I Was Afraid” bears all the hallmarks of a genuine return to form for writer Robert Kirkman. Certainly the majority of this comic’s 71,885 readers in August 2014 must have momentarily stopped breathing when it fleetingly looked as if the former leader of the Saviours was about to be released upon the unsuspecting inhabitants of Alexandria. Whilst a similar number must also have been temporarily numbed by the suggestion that the Undead could actually communicate with one another; “Where they go?” “Don’t Know. Keep Moving.” “Okay.”
Frustratingly however, no sooner have the roamers passed their prey by and the ‘talking dead’ shambled out of earshot, than this title (once again) disappointingly focuses all of its attention upon the day-to-day mundane struggles of life in a post-apocalyptic world. A move on behalf of the series’ creator which undoubtedly prevents any excitement to be had from the book’s remaining two-thirds.
Admittedly the American author’s cliff-hanger ending, which involves a semi-conscious Marco ranting about hiding inside “a barn on a hill” surrounded by “so many” zombies who “were speaking” is particularly well-written. But in order to reach this potentially cataclysmic conclusion any perusing bibliophile must first wade through a tediously tiresome account of Carl and his father making their way to the Hilltop colony by cart, and then an even more wearisome five-page sequence simply showing Maggie and Grimes walking up to Miss Greene’s house in order for Rick to see Glenn’s child Hershel Junior.
Luckily artist Charlie Adlard is able to imbue Issue One Hundred and Thirty of “The Walking Dead” with some additional moments of interest, courtesy of some ‘stand-out’ panels. The British penciller’s drawings of a long-haired, grizzled Negan, wide-eyed and supposedly terrified “even [at] the sound of his name…” genuinely shows just how good the Shrewsbury-born illustrator can be when sketching facial expressions, and this skill fortunately holds him in good stead throughout Kirkman’s lack-lustre and dialogue-heavy script.
|Writer: Robert Kirkman, Penciller: Charlie Adlard, and Inker: Stefano Gaudiano|