By: Sean McLaughlin
The loyal readers and fans of The Walking Dead comics have grown accustom to major characters being killed off, or otherwise neutralized, for just about ten years now. While it’s never a surprise, it always is…..if that makes sense. In issue #113 (arriving in stores on Wednesday, August 14), Robert Kirkman and company continue the lengthy, brutal and ominous saga of bad-boy Negan and his army of psychopaths ruling the roost with intimidation and colorful language. The fascinating Negan, when last we left him, had just thwarted an attempted coup on their way out of town by Rick and his loyal band of followers which set up the cliffhanger at the end of issue #112. Once again Negan, as he so nonchalantly points out, is indeed having unwelcomed oral intercourse with our hero…..while Rick is forced to say “thank you.” Adorable.
So teetering on the brink of yet another deadly blow to the Alexandria camp, how does issue 113 deliver? The frantic pace of the patented Negan verbal berating is showcased nicely here, complete with a list of those he is to kill for Rick’s awkward and disappointing betrayal. Lucille, everyone’s favorite baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire, is yet again waved around in a wickedly delightful pre-massacre announcement. I don’t want to give too much away here…..but I will share a few of my thoughts on this installment.
Readers have been clutching their issues, beginning with the shocking murder of Glen in epic issue #100, and clamoring for the ultimate confrontation between battle-tested good guy Rick Grimes and his latest, but most formidable, adversary Negan. Anxiety has run high over the past year or so, but what we’ve been provided is a lot of planning and dry runs, with very little in the way of all-out war. Each subsequent comic felt like this would be “it”, the moment we’ve waited for, as Kirkman and his merry band of zombie pranksters developed characters and relationships beyond what we expected. The pieces are in place, attack plans are drawn…..yet Rick instead decides to stage an impromptu, small-scale attack when he thinks that Negan is back on his heels. Surely issue #113 HAS to show some kind of big response and/or sacrifice, right?
What I will say is that you can expect one long, drawn-out scene. There are physical altercations, but perhaps not between the particular players that you’ve hoped for. Rick’s group, particularly Andrea, prove their strength and allegiance. The bond between the Alexandria group is tested, but not broken. The survivors are obviously in a no-win situation, but Negan has made mistakes before in not taking care of business when he should have. Those situations have created unlikely relationships, almost friendships, with both Rick and Carl. Like two opposing generals on the battlefield, Negan has learned to recognize and respect the authority that a guy like Rick commands. For just this reason, issue #113 sees him target Carl specifically in his act of retribution. This is the most vulnerable we have seen of the boy in recent memory, as the last couple of years have hardened Carl’s exterior while he learns to survive, and thrive, by any means necessary. What issue 113 presents to the readers is a direct parallel to the issue 100 predicament that Rick was forced to endure: allow his worst enemy to kill someone he holds dear, or act now and save his son. An unenviable situation, for sure.
What The Walking Dead #113 lacks in resolution or bloodshed, it makes up for in both suspense and white-knuckled anticipation. We’ve been eagerly awaiting the coming war, but now more than ever the long wait appears to be barreling towards a bloody conclusion. Whether the end of the fight will see the victoriously-raised hand of Rick or Negan, still remains to be seen.