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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 #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