Saturday, 26 March 2016

The Walking Dead #134 - Image Comics

THE WALKING DEAD No. 134, November 2014
There can be little doubt that Robert Kirkman’s character of Paul Monroe is undoubtedly both “a very good hand to hand combatant” and “capable of extreme feats of human ability.” How else could the Alexandria recruiter simultaneously manage to overcome the large “attacking swarm of talking [armed] dead” he confronts at the beginning of this comic, rescue a “severely injured” Darius and take the last surviving Whisperer prisoner singlehandedly? It’s certainly arguable as to whether many of this book’s 68,093 readers felt that the title’s lead character Rick Grimes would have managed to overcome such insurmountable odds, even if the former Kentucky Police officer had been in his prime…

Fortunately such a willing suspension of disbelief is easily achieved on account of “The Walking Dead” creator’s excellent penmanship. Clearly outnumbered, and somewhat shaken by the realisation that his supposedly undead foes can not only talk but even “have names”, Jesus’ grim determination not to go “down without taking most of you with me” and excellent use of his surroundings, such as sending a horse stampeding through a cluster of hungry roamers, increasingly makes the prospect of the long-haired herder ‘coming out on top’ all the more likely. Indeed by the time Paul has dispatched those zombies attempting to devour a still-struggling Darius, and become surrounded by the last of the disguised survivors, his enemy’s observation that the man must be “getting tired” and “can’t fight forever” actually sounds more like an optimistic hope than a confident statement.

Incredibly such utterly engrossing action and adventure doesn’t end however with Monroe, bloodied sword in hand, triumphantly standing tall over the pleading remains of his final opponent. For although events back at the Hilltop Colony at first seem infinitely more sedentary and dialogue-driven, the American author suddenly turns the seemingly idyllic prospects of Carl Grimes' world upside down by having the disfigured son of Rick savagely bashed over the head with a brick by two local bullies. This cowardly attack upon a defenceless adolescent who has already overcome so much post-apocalyptic strife is genuinely shocking. But is then unbelievably surpassed by the boy seemingly bludgeoning his arrogant attackers to death with a shovel; “No! Don’t! I’m sorry! No! No! No! No!”

Presumably inspired by such a scintillatingly tense and terrifically-charged script, Charlie Adlard’s pencilling for “From Whispers To Screams” is breathtakingly good. The Whisperers, ‘Leatherfaced’ and almost nonchalantly holding kitchen knives in their rotting hands, look absolutely terrifying as they stalk towards a solitary Monroe. Whilst Paul’s subsequent battle and then later Carl’s almost ‘homicidal slaying’ of his assailants proves a mouth-watering masterclass by the Englishman in how to imbue illustrations with a genuine sense of power and ferocious movement.
Writer: Robert Kirkman, Penciller: Charlie Adlard, and Inker: Stefano Gaudiano


  1. Kirkman is back on track again. Three good issues in a row, huh? Carl getting beaten up was a big surprise to me. Paul is as good a combatant as Michone, and yes, I agree, even better than Rick when he was in his prime.

    1. This was terrific stuff Bryan, my best read of 2016 :-) Sadly I pulled the title in a few more issues time, so we'll soon fast forwards to the #150 special edition (I bought on account of the cover) and then have a look back at a few issues before "All Out War".