|THE WALKING DEAD No. 131, September 2014|
Comprising of a narrative as uninspiring in its sedentary content as its cover illustration of Carl becoming a blacksmith is rather awkward-looking, it is genuinely hard to imagine many of this comic’s 69,810 buyers actually managing to acquire much in the way of excitement from Issue One Hundred and Thirty One of “The Walking Dead”. In fact it’s difficult to believe that many readers endured this twenty-two page passionless periodical in one sitting, as Robert Kirkman’s storyline aimlessly wanders from two adolescent bullies being beaten up by Sophia to a completely pointless “communal dinner at Alexandria”.
Only Dante’s countryside mission to find Ken provides any lasting suspense until this magazine’s cliff-hanger, and even that ends up rather distastefully dwelling upon the Hilltop colonist’s desire “of going to bed with the woman who bosses all of us around” as its “damn near the only thing keeping my blood pumping…” Admittedly the scene depicting the small party’s discovery of their injured objective’s clothes lying discarded in the barn where Marco left him passes pleasurably enough. But its abrupt conclusion, as the men “are ambushed by a group of roamers”, is disappointingly followed by another dialogue-heavy sequence where Rick Grimes and Maggie simply talk and talk; a painful series of panels whose monotonous dialogue recollecting just “how things were” swiftly destroys any lasting momentum the fleetingly brief appearance of some zombies had just created.
Fortuitously the American author’s storyline does finally produce a moment of tension when, on the very last page, Andrea returns home after speaking to Eugene about how much Rosita loves him and is “ambushed by Magna”. The Richmond survivor’s dramatic appearance provides this instalment with some much needed menace as she grimly informs Grimes’ partner that “she’ll be the one answering” the Virginian’s questions…
Just as off-putting as Kirkman’s ineffectual plot however is artist Charlie Adlard's attempt to correct his collaborator’s pacing issues by populating each sheet with plenty of small-sized pictures. Ordinarily the Shrewsbury-born illustrator would provide plenty of double splashes for so slow a script. Yet on this occasion conversational exchanges, such as Maggie ordering Dante to find Ken after he’s been already been hooch-tasting, are handled via a quick succession of short snappy panels within which his drawings’ consistency is disconcertingly questionable.
|Writer: Robert Kirkman, Penciller: Charlie Adlard, and Inker: Stefano Gaudiano|