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‘The Walking Dead’ Season 8 Episode One: The Horror News Network Review

Like many original fans of the Walking Dead, I have problems with the current direction of the show and left Season 7 with little hope for salvation in Season 8.  My review of Season 7 was far from complimentary and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to attempt another one, especially for a television program that was once a nuanced, engaging story and that has now devolved into an explosion-filled mess.

I originally planned on skipping this review, but my HNN colleague John Evans recommended that I use the same stream of consciousness method that I applied to American Horror Story: Cult earlier this fall. read more

Andrew Lincoln Considers a Rick Grimes-less ‘Walking Dead’

EW reporter Dalton Ross recently speculated what The Walking Dead would be like without titular character Rick Grimes.  It appears that Andrew Linclon and Robert Kirkman have also considered it.

Ross spoke to Lincoln recently, and he told Ross that “I was talking to James Badge Dale about acting, and we were just talking about completing stories.  I think that there’s an innate feeling and certainly in me that I love doing a play or doing the film because you get to put a period on the end of it and you get to do it nightly, which is really exciting. TV is different. The format is different because it is about sort of a continuum. But, you know, there is a sense to me that really needs some… it sounds like I’m in a shrink’s head, but there is a completion thing that I think I deserve for doing it for so long. And also probably the audience would like some completion.” read more

The Walking Dead Season Seven Mid-Season Review

If The Walking Dead’s Season Seven tag-line was “We’re just Getting Started”, my question is: when is this season going to actually start?

After a brutal first episode (and an even longer “Who Shot J.R.?” cliff hanger to end season six), I thought that the show would begin doing what in the past it did best: making viewers feel connected to Rick Grimes’ “band of brothers” and bringing real drama into the lives of the survivors that allowed for character development and real (not contrived) drama.  So far, this season has been one long first episode, hitting the same notes that were abundantly displayed in Season Six’s final episode and this season’s first.    read more

New ‘Walking Dead’ Teaser

A new teaser for mid season premiere of ‘The Walking Dead’ has been released. You can view it below. 

‘The Walking Dead’  returns Sunday February 14, at 9 pm.

The Walking Dead #131 Review

    

 

     As we patiently wait for the fifth season of the TV juggernaut version of The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman continues to rewrite the rules and ramp up the anticipation with the comic version.  Issue 131 continues the recent theme of introducing us to this new world order, where the humans and their communities are thriving with little interference whether living or undead.  Slowly, old friendships are being renewed and absent characters are having their whereabouts divulged one clue at a time.  But as we learned at the conlusion of issue 130, there are couple of new developments that promise to throw a wrench in this utopian facade.  And luckily for us, both are explored here with aggresive gusto.
    When we last left the action, Rick and Carl had just arrived at The Hilltop, with the younger hoping to begin the next phase of his fast-track to adulthood right away.  Carl receives some good news while speaking with Earl, the blacksmith.  He’s also reunited with Sophia, both childhood friends already having been through more struggles and violence than most people do in their entire lives.  This is what passes for childhood in this wasteland, and both are happy to be in each other’s lives again.  Rick and Hilltop leader Maggie have a heart-to-heart, confirming that heavy is the head that holds the crown.  Neither asked for this, but their conversation confirms that both have the qualities to oversee this new reality, as reluctant as they may be.  It is also revealed that an important character, conspicuous by her absence, is indeed “gone.”  That’s a nice cliffhanger for us to frustrate over until next month, per Kirkman’s insistance.  New characters are introduced in this issue as well, with at least one hinting at an interesting backstory which could play out in the next few issues.  Ordered to form a search-and-
rescue team for Ken (the unfortunate soul left for dead by his partner Marco), Dante speaks casually about his infatuation with Maggie and the game he’s unsuccessfully playing to woo her.  That is, of course, before the party is surrounded by a horde of walkers.  Nice touch by Kirkman…..force the reader to get invested and then have us face the possibility that it was all for naught.
    The two main events that do occur should have long-lasting ramifications, although on different levels.  Continuing with the notion that the zombies are becoming “smart” and communicating, we see this potential game-changer for ourselves for the first time.  Who needs Negan and the Saviors when the original bad-guys could start cursing just as loudly, right?  This notion is exciting, if for no other reason than it provides the platform for the walking dead to evolve, something not explored on a wide scale since the comic began.  This storyline is only two issues long so far, and the buzz is real.  This must’ve been what Kirkman was talking about when he declared that the entire landscape of The Walking Dead would forever change after the “All Out War” series.  Nice job, captain.  We cannot forget about Alexandria, of course, which is currently without it’s central leadership (other than Andrea).  Though they didn’t fall for Negan’s mind games, Magna and her friends are still determined to find some answers of their own and are willing to take important hostages to do it.  Let’s not forget…..trust is a two-way street.  In the TWD universe, who knows if trust can even really exist at all.
    With such an emotional content (no tragedies, more of the personal bonding type), Adlard, Gaudiano, Rathburn and the crew are masterful in portraying the facial expressions and humanity that these characters feel.  The characters have every reason to believe that things are looking up and the future could be bright (at least compared to the last couple of years), but the overal tone remains a bit dark and ominous.  This is exactly what we’re looking for.  As the residents of these safe havens create wine and steel products and tools, the threat that has always lingered on the other side of the walls is still present.  And whether it’s human or undead, it finds a way in.
    Issue 131 is again well-suited for building the rising actions, while posing two potential climaxes on opposing but deadly fronts.  We have indeed entered into a new era of The Walking Dead, and although many of the faces are the same the threat is progressing (and surfacing).  We have to wait another month to find out which threat strikes first, but it’s obvious that the communities are about to feel a lot less safe than they have been.  Though he’s still imprisoned, I’m sure Negan is smiling from his ironic jail cell. read more

The Walking Dead #130 Review

                                                                                    

     Admittedly, a good portion of me was secretly hoping that The Walking Dead issue 130 (out in stores now) would deliver the promised action and choas that issue 125 was rumored to.  A few months ago, the “All Out War” storyline was winding down, and the final apocalyptic battle between Rick and Negan looked to provide that bloody and destructive battle that had been hinted at for over a year.  This is a huge expectation to place on a comic that hasn’t really provided us with any significant events (other than a big time-jump) in a few months.  But the flash-forward that began in issue 127 has mainly served to introduce us to the new world, a changed reality for the remaining characters and the wasteland they have to navigate on the way to a perceived normality.  Issue 129’s cliffhanger teased at an explosive event to kick off the current installment…..did it deliver?  Keep reading……   
    In this new TWD universe, it’s a bit unclear as to who are now considered the “main” characters.  Rick, Carl, Andrea and the others are still the main focal points, but Magna and her group, although they’re new characters, seem to be central to the plot in the current storyline.  Alexandria, the Hilltop and the Kingdom appear to have figured things out community-wise, and are thriving under the newly-established guidelines concerning travel, trading, etc.  But Magna and her friends have just been introduced to this society, and are naturally skeptical as their true motives.  Nothing can be as it seems in a zombie apocalypse, right?  All of this skepticism leads them to the discovery of Negan behind bars in the basement, and his impending freedom by the newcomers.  Spoilers aside (I’ll do my best throughout this review to not spoil any major plot points), they prove, particularly Magna, to be more intelligent and less impulsive than previously thought.  Whenever Rick is away, it feels like, horrible things happen to Alexandria.  The second coming of Negan would certainly fit the bill here.
    There are two major revelations in issue 130.  The first is one that all parents must endure as your children grow up, which Rick is now faced with.  His trip with Carl to the Hilltop, where Carl is to begin his blacksmith apprenticeship, concludes.  A major turning point towards adulthood (and the loss of an innocence that Carl really had stolen from him years prior) forces Rick to admit that his son is becoming a man, and no longer needs his protection (officially).  He has an emotional heart-to-heart discussion on this topic with Maggie, who is still in charge of the Hilltop.  This issue is also our first introduction to the child of Maggie and Glenn, Hershel.  Hershel appears to be about 18-24 months old, and is obviously named for Maggie’s father.  After trading some parenting tips, they reminisce about their journey and what brought them to this point (complacency often times breeds vulnerability, as I’ve mentioned in past reviews).  So life continues on as usual for the survivors, with only a few zombies (seriously….a FEW) thrown in for good measue.  This issue may have the lease amount of the undead in any that I can remember, with their presence really felt in one scene only.
    That scene, however, proves to be a big one.  The scouts that were were introduced a few issues back, Marco and Ken, are pinned down by a zombie horde and take refuge in a hidden ditch.  While waiting out the caravan, they begin hearing strange voices.  Later, when Marco is the only one able to make it back to the Hilltop (presumably leaving Ken to certain demise), he reports on the phenomenon that they witnessed.  And at long last…..it appears that Robert Kirkman is touching upon the evolving, “communicating” zombies that George Romero explored in Land of the Dead.  This is a great twist, as the comic and the storylines were really becoming too “human-centric”, with man playing the roles of both hero and villain for far too long.  If the stinkers (thanks to Magna for the new term) are truly beginning to evolve to the point of speech amongst themselves, then we can expect the zombies to begin playing a more integral part in the comics and TWD getting back to its roots.  With the last few issues essentially being a comic “reboot”, this is a smart move by Kirkman. 
    If you’re looking for the crazy action that has been missing since issue 126, then you’ll probably be disappointed by issue 130.  But if you look at the forest for the trees, and are willing to be patient, it feels as though the TWD world is on the verge of a major shift in the balance of power.  What part will the survivors serve in this new world order, if that is indeed where the storyline is headed?  We’ll have to wait until next month, when the characters can begin trying to grasp the shocking reality of what they just heard and how they plan to counteract this impending doom.  Issue 130 is short on action and blood, but delivers perhaps the most significant surprise in many, many years. read more

The Walking Dead #129 Review

    My how things have changed.  My last review of The Walking Dead comic (issue 127) was very climactic, but at the same time left readers wondering what was next.  The “All Out War” drew to a close, as Rick led the combined forces of the ASF, Hilltop and Kingdom to victory over Negan and the Saviors.  Negan, the greatest villain that Robert Kirkman and friends have created in the history of the TWD saga, was shown mercy and spared, as Dwight led the Saviors in retreat away from the good guys.  Evil vanquished, and good rewarded.  And oh yeah…..the undead are still patrolling the globe but let’s not get too technical here.  Where do we go from here?  How about two years in the future, for starters.  Starting with issue 127, Carl is suddenly 15 years old, Rick looks older and all-too-Herschel-like, and Andrea is being called “mom” on the regular.  What a long, strange trip we’ve missed….
    Issue 129 picks up with the group of newcomers, who’ve graced the covers of the last three issues despite being complete unknowns, continuing to be suspicious of the group that we’ve spent the last 10 years (in real time) getting to know.  Kirkman is doing an admirable job of forcing us to see this world through a new, naive set of eyes.  It’s only when Magda’s group arrives and begins questioning this community that the reader takes a step back, looks over the illusory landscape, and with a fresh set of eyes realizes that things seriously do seem to be more than they appear.  Oh, and there’s a bearded guy being held captive in the basement of a house.  Of course….Magda’s group doesn’t now about him yet but more on that later.
    Everything appears to be running smoothly.  The communities are thriving, there’s a trade route patrolled by citizens that keep the undead and undesirable alike off the trail.  All is well….but how much fun can that be?  As we know, these are the times when chaos arrives to disrupt the admirable attempt at normalcy.  Magda and her friends wander about the Alexandria Safe Zone, investigating every nook and cranny for possible hidden secrets as they still believe nobody (or collection of people) can be this nice and accommodating.  The TV show is going through this scenario right now with the whole mess at Terminus (their instincts turned out to be correct).  Rick has left to bring Carl to the Hilltop (still being ruled by Maggie), and the outsiders stumble upon the “prisoner” in the basement.  Who is it?  Why, it’s that lovable Negan fella, of course.  Crying and begging to set him free, the newcomers now face a turning point in the series and it should be no wonder as to what they’ll choose to do.  After all, when the cat’s away the mice (especially one big rat) will play.
    Following two consecutive issues of little action and much catching up (and character re-development), it was good to see Kirkman get back on the right track in issue 129.  Carl is growing up, and is now dealing with the normal feelings of teenage love, identity confusion and goals for the future all at once.  Luckily, he’s still a pretty good shot as well, as he’s able to help get he and Rick out of a potentially fatal situation with some roaming zombies.  As for Rick….since the end to the war there’s been a big change in him as well.  He verbally and physically berates a road sentry that is caught out of position, causing he and his son to fend for themselves.  The emotion and rage shown in his face as he’s beating this man down like a dog in front of Carl is clearly something that he’s never done before.  It may be that the pressure of having to protect his family and all communities is wearing on him (again), but since the war is over this doesn’t seem to be the case.  More than likely, the all-encompassing power, along with not having to worry about invading armies presently, may be going a bit to his head.  It’s certainly something to keep an eye on as we move forward.
    After a bit of a slow, but necessary, start to The Walking Dead 2.0, things are certainly starting to heat up.  Proving that Rick’s ultimate decision about Negan’s fate could be costly, issue 130 is set up to be a good one.  There’s always a calm before the storm, and the general serenity our heroes have enjoyed over the last couple of years may be coming to an end, and once again zombies might be the least of their worries. read more

Horror Hunting! For the Week of July 7th

     Welcome to this week’s edition of Horror Hunting!, as we zoom through the middle of July.  Hey….not sure if you’ve heard yet but the folks over at AMC are in the middle of shooting the fifth season of a little series called “The Walking Dead”, or something like that.  Hopefully it’ll be as neato as Breaking Bad!  All sarcasm aside, if you haven’t seen the new teaser clip from the upcoming season of TWD then you’re the only one.  In honor of all of this undead anticipation, I’ve uncovered a couple of ghoulish goodies from the TWD universe that’ll hold you over until October.  These are both pre-orders, so be sure to pounce on the opportunity to reserve one if you like what you see! read more

The Walking Dead #126 Review

By: Sean McLaughlin

   
   
             Well…..”All Out War” has concluded.  And there is certainly a winner and a loser.  So if nothing else, you can say that about The Walking Dead issue 126.  After two years or so of this constant threat of annihilation at the hands of Negan and the Saviors, Rick and his allied forces (Alexandria Safe Zone, the Hilltop and the Kingdom) now know exactly what their immediate futures hold.  Since this was such an anticipated issue, with so much riding on the end of this successful storyline, I will refrain from major spoilers in this review as to not discourage fans from reading it (until you see the big “SPOILERS!!” tag, that is).  However, I will be sure to reference, using vague and ambiguous allusions whenever possible, the instantly-polarizing events that have caused quite the stir.  Sure, we’ve seen this type of love-it-or-hate-it reaction from the fanbase before (the prison and the Governor, the Hunters, etc.), but after 10+ years of Kirkman and company bringing us to the edge of insanity (and talking us off the ledge as well), this “new beginning” that was promised may in fact have just begun.
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The Walking Dead #125 Review

 

By:  Sean McLaughlin

 

 

                When reading through The Walking Dead issue 125 (out now), two things immediately struck me as a fan of both the comic and the show.  The first had to do with a very important, impassioned speech delivered by one of the main characters.  The other was the incredible ending, which left us readers with such a massive cliffhanger that words simply cannot do it justice.  With my review, however, I will give it a shot.

                Every 25 issues Robert Kirkman likes to give the TWD fans something “major” to chew on until the next issue is mercifully bestowed upon us.  The latest example was glorious issue #100, where Negan used Lucille to inflict quite the unceremonious going-away party upon Glenn’s head.  So while the “All Out War” storyline isn’t scheduled to end until issue 126, we all had an idea that Kirkman was going to pull something major out of his bag of tricks.  Would it be introduction of new, important characters?  The brutal death of a major player?  We just didn’t know.  What we got, luckily, was an issue so filled with anticipation and the welcome feeling of ominous foreshadowing that I my heart was in the back of my throat all the way up until the last page.  And then that last page……yikes.  Like I said, at the very least we don’t have to wait six months to find out what happens next like the television show is forcing us to do (with the group locked in the train car at Terminus); in Mr. Kirkman’s world, two weeks are enough to discover whether the shocking act committed, seemingly out of nowhere, at the end of #125 was a dream or the beginning of a new reality.  We were warned that All Out War would bring monumental changes to the TWD universe, and by the looks of it that is exactly what we’re getting. read more