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… 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

The Walking Dead #124 Review

By: Sean McLaughlin

    Only three issues to go in the “All Out War” storyline (including issue 124), and writer Robert Kirkman is
determined to dig both sides in for a final, decisive battle.  But when…..and where?  As has been demonstrated
throughout the entirety of its run, The Walking Dead is perfectly fine with letting story archs and the fates of
characters drag out and continue on, seemingly into perpetuity.  The apparent rule of thumb in this post-
apocalyptic universe is that “if it didn’t happen to Rick, it’s not necessarily a big deal.”  Which makes the
conclusion of issue 123 that much more baffling, as Mr. Grimes was felled by an arrow shot through his midsection
by the shadowy, and hard-to-gauge, Dwight.  Not just any arrow, but an arrow tainted with zombie gore that is known
to quickly turn an average living human into yet another undead ghoul.  So would we have answers in issue 124? 
Well….yes and no.  Not exactly the answer you’d like to hear, but again in this world it’s all about the journey. read more

The Walking Dead #123 Review

By:  Sean McLaughlin


    Robert Kirkman has insinuated, on the eve of the “All Out War” storyline launch over a year ago, that the landscape of the TWD universe will drastically change by issue 127.  It remains to be seen to what extent, but at this point Mr. Kirkman continues to be a man of his word.  In issue 123 of The Walking Dead, yet another in a growing list of battles between Rick’s allies and Negan’s Saviors takes place, this time at the Hilltop.  But something about this battle seems different, seems….final.  If we hadn’t already been told that this is chapter 9 (of 12) in All Out War, I would swear that this issue would be the penultimate in the latest saga.  Kirkman brilliantly offers an abundance of hope in the beginning, followed immediately by a crushing blow of despair.  It would be an honor to continually witness a master at work, if there wasn’t so much frustration along the way as well. read more

The Walking Dead #121 Review

By: Sean McLaughlin

    There are several reasons to believe that the TWD universe is doomed, the least of which has to be the post-apocalyptic zombie universe that surrounds it all.  The Walking Dead issue 121 is all doom and gloom….there’s no sugar-coating it.  If not for the fact that the front cover alerts us that this is chapter 7 of 12 in the “All Out War” storyline, I would honestly believe that this is the end.  Countless times since revolutionary issue #100, Rick and his soldiers (there’s no way around it now, these citizens have become soldiers simply to survive) have launched attacks on Negan and the Saviors, each with varying degrees of success.  But even with a series of victories, the current installment reminds us that Negan has a seemingly endless supply of men and weapons, and that even the strongest will can be broken eventually.
    When we last left our heroes, they were celebrating an unexpected victory from Negan’s invasion (along with a key defection), even as their homes were burning behind the safety of their walls due to crippling grenade attacks.  Jesus redirecting a live grenade back at the Saviors, and Dwight’s face turn amongst the enemy and continued infiltration, are all that saved the Alexandria Safe Zone from complete annihilation.  Negan defiantly proclaims that the smoke rising up among the community houses means that they won at the end of the issue.  Unfortunately we learn in 121 that his statement was not too far off.  Rick immediately begins dealing with folks wanting to leave right away, and others that want to continue fighting.  Ezekiel continues his guild-ridden breakdown despite Michonne’s coaching, and once again proves to be an unworthy ally.  But there are two very important things going on here.  On the retreat, the Saviors are able to take a few key hostages completely by luck.  One of these could be the turning point in the war itself.
    The second element at play here is entirely reactionary.  We begin to see Rick, the man that has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years to be a strong leader and never back down from a fight, deteriorate a bit.  He suddenly doesn’t know what the next move is.  He’s unsure whether to follow Negan to continue the battle, or evacuate Alexandria to save whoever is left.  We witness his shaky non-answers to the questions being thrown at him.  Robert Kirkman composes this issue brilliantly, depicting a leader that’s reverting back to his faults….faults that have gotten friends and those that looked to him killed.  Perhaps this mutual respect that he and Negan have shared for the past 20 issue, the respect that I’m always bringing up in my reviews, is dead and gone.  Both men are realizing that they should’ve killed the other when they had the chance (and the each had multiple opportunities).  Rick, more so, is regretting his past ineptitude at this juncture.
    The amazing aspect of this current story arch is that despite several violent clashes and deaths, it almost seems like this story isn’t going anywhere, like it’s stuck in the mud.  Each side has traded victories and bragging rights, but neither has claimed the world championship belt.  I know we’ve been teased with promises of a conclusive battle forever, but now more than ever feels like the time.  And unfortunate as it is, Rick and his group are on the outside looking in.  While they search for a new home, this may be just the opportunity that Negan and the Saviors need to grab that ring.  With five issues left in “All Out War”, something tells me that issue 122 won’t provide the conclusive action that we’re looking for. read more

The Walking Dead #120 Review


Review By:  Sean McLaughlin


                At the conclusion of The Walking Dead issue 120, we’ve officially made it halfway through the “All Out War” storyline (6 of 12).  And when we last left the action, Negan and the Saviors appeared poised to put a violent end to the Alexandria Safe Zone, once and for all.  Which begs the question… are there still six more chapters to this story arch, when our heroes are faced with such impossible odds?  But to ponder this question would doubt the road that Robert Kirkman has paved for his audience…..and after ten years, the man has earned this level of respect.  I’ll be the first to admit that I had wondered how Rick and the gang would escape the impending doom at the end of issue of 119.  Not only are these questions answered, but the latest installment invokes a level of emotion and violence unlike any other in recent memory.  Considering the amount of chaos and gore that the TWD universe has witnessed since issue 100 (particularly the last few issues), this is saying a lot. read more

The Walking Dead #119 Review

By:  Sean McLaughlin

         A big dose of reality hits our heroes in The Walking Dead #119.  Nobody ever said that war was easy, but the way Rick and the allies have seemingly run roughshod over Negan and the Saviors it was understandable that Alexandria was already feeling safer.  In this post-apocalyptic realm, safety is never guaranteed (nor is it promised).  Robert Kirkman is painstakingly methodical (and slow) in his story-telling; however, he also ensures that the end result is worth the journey.  While we haven’t yet reached the conclusion to the “All Out War” subplot, issue 119 reassess the current state of the survivors and ends with one of the best cliffhangers since The Governor was barking orders from the top of a moving tank.
        We are given access to the most vulnerable sides of several characters as they change before our eyes (Ezekial breaking down, Rick beginning to question himself, Aaron ready to kill).  This is a very smart tactic by Kirkman and illustrator Charlie Adlard (with wonderful depictions of inner feelings boiling over), because these more-humanized folks are about to be put to the test.  Rick and his group returns to Alexandria after his successful pinning-down of Negan and destruction of one of his outposts.  Unfortunately, he learns of Ezekial’s failure and begins to devise a plan to cut-off Negan’s inevitable counter-attack which he theorizes is barreling towards their front door.   Apparently, they’re a bit off on the number-crunching because Negan, with Lucille and his army in tow, appear at the gates ready to “talk”.  While normally, a verbal discourse would be out of the question in this situation, Negan has actually shown a penchant for talking things out (to his benefit only, of course) throughout this current run of the comic.  Of course, the mutual respect between he and Rick, which is downright baffling at times, remains the only reason that our hero is still alive and breathing.  After the return of a missing resident, the pace picks up exponentially leading to the explosive ending and white-knuckled cliffhanger.
      After numerous issues of inaction and false finishes, you really get the sense that All Out War is winding to a volatile conclusion.  It seems like Negan has brushed off at least half a dozen assassination attempts by Rick, and the only time he really made him pay was way back in issue 100 with Glenn’s murder.  There has to be a reason for this, and perhaps this is the big payoff we’ve been agonizing for.  There are a few questions that can be raised which are not answered here, but look promising for the next issue or so.  What’s going on at The Hilltop?  How did Negan and his men escape?  How many soldiers does Negan have anyway?  This last one really does keep me up at night, as the last year or so has seen the killing of at least 100 of the Saviors.  Yet, with each attack their numbers seemed to have been replenished.   Most likely, Kirkman does this to hammer home the point that this is a bad guy, and the threat he poses may never really be neutralized.  Rick and his combined forces may’ve won a series of battles, but now with the war at their own gates their time may just be up.
     There are many reasons that issue 119 is worth the price of admission.  Several main characters continue on their trek towards an emotional breakdown.  Rick receives yet another reality check, and is provided an opportunity to prove his leadership ability yet again.  Most importantly, we’re left with an image that harkens back to the prison heyday.  And just like back then, we can’t wait until January 22nd to pick up where Kirkman leaves off.  But in true TWD style, there’s always a chance we’re left with more questions than answers.  We’ll see. read more