|THE WALKING DEAD No. 150, January 2016|
There should be little doubt in any collector’s mind that Editor Sean Mackiewicz’s confident boast within this magazine’s “Letter Hacks” that “The Walking Dead is a pretty special comic” is not an arrogant-sounding falsehood. For not only has this post-apocalyptic title, “created in Backwoods, Kentucky”, clearly become a lucrative franchise spawning action figures, board games and at least one highly successful television serial. It has also been consistently recording some significantly impressive sales figures “for the past twelve years” as well.
However those 156,166 readers who bought this “celebration of the tremendously talented creators who’ve worked on this comic", especially those "fans who’ve been here since Day One”, must surely have been fairly disappointed with a Robert Kirkman plot that, besides a somewhat short-lived cowardly assault upon the title’s central protagonist, contains little else but dialogue, additional dialogue and finally a thirty-two panel sequence composed entirely of even more dialogue… Indeed Rick Grime’s ‘sermon’ apologising to the settlers of Alexandria that he has “allowed us to become weak”, and promise to “band [them] together so we can kill the Whisperers” takes up the entire final third of the (over-sized) thirty-page long periodical and seems a strange narrative with which to “shock, frighten and thrill” the book’s audience as the creative team presumably intended.
Admittedly Morton Rose’s diabolically treacherous attack upon the former police deputy from Cynthiana is tremendously well-penned by the Richmond-born writer, and genuinely proves pulse-pounding as Tammy’s husband momentarily appears to have the upper hand over the disabled community leader. Fortunately the ambushed colonist is able to fight back in a typically grisly manner for the storyline’s post-apocalyptic setting by literally tearing the would-be killer’s throat out with his bare teeth. But Rick’s subsequent, though perfectly understandable, collapse into unconsciousness also ends any semblance of excitement to be gleaned from so frustratingly word heavy a comic; “This needs to happen! They’ll come and take more of us if we don’t fight back! What about your wife?! My son?! I’m not going to let Rick risk their lives, too!”
Charlie Adlard’s co-responsibility for ensuring that this sixth and final part of “No Turning Back” manages to attain its necessary sheet-count would also appear to have taken its toll upon the quality of the British artist’s pencilling, and also guaranteed that his breakdowns include a handful of his ‘infamous’ oft-times underwhelming splash-pages. In fact, apart from the Kerrang! Award-winner’s frighteningly dynamic night-time fight scene, as well as a few entirely blacked-out panels, the vast majority of his drawings simply consist of character head-shots unconvincingly conversing with one another.
|The regular cover art of "THE WALKING DEAD" No. 150 by Charlie Adlard & Dave Stewart|