November 28th, 2012 | → 1 Comments | ∇ Graphic Novels & Comics |
American TV drives me mad. Not because of the quality, most of it is of an incredible standard, but due to the whimsical way that the networks decide their fates. Prime example is ‘Lost’, a show I loved but got increasingly frustrated with because it was pretty obvious where it should have finished but the networks squeezed every last ounce of story out of the writers to milk the cash- cow for all it was worth. Alternatively, you have ‘Defying Gravity’; a science-fiction show that was so brilliant, so ambitious and so (literally) out of this world and the network cancelled it after one series. If I had hair, I’d tear it out.
However, one show that was positively guaranteed more than one series is The Walking Dead, due to the wealth of source material it’s based on – all 104 issues and counting. And, judging by the latest collected offering (97-102) from Kirkman, Adlard and Rathburn, it shows no signs of letting up in the foreseeable future. Which is good, because it’s f-ing brilliant.
This story arc is a no-holds barred tour de force which sees Rick and the rest of the survivors come face to face with the mysterious Negan that has been plaguing the hilltop community they met in the last arc. The continuous, masterful story development is all there; Carl is becoming increasingly hardened against the hopeless future that he has to inherit, Andrea and Rick’s relationship develops and Maggie has some big news to impart on Glenn but it’s the monumentally heart-wrenching issue 100 that makes this collection worth reading, not least because it features one of the series’ most brutal scenes since the ‘eye surgery with a spoon’ issue, but because Kirkman and Adlard pace it so perfectly that you are literally on the edge of your seat when reading.
The pacing should be perfect, mind you; they’ve had 99 issues to make it so, but the trick is they make you care about everything that happens. They make you care about the characters because you’ve been following them through Hell since the beginning and you’re willing them to survive, to live, to be happy and Kirkman teases these survivors with that possibility all the way through this arc only to whip it out from under them in such a shocking manner that you can’t help but feel it in the pit of your stomach. All of this is captured by Charlie Adlard’s ever-consistent pencils, producing arguably some of his best (and most gruesome) Walking Dead work to date. (Man, that guy can draw guts).
As always, the ‘meat puppets’ are there in the background, shuffling and moaning, waiting for an unsuspecting survivor to slip up so they can turn the poor sod’s brains into poo. There’s an exchange between some of the characters about the zombie situation that makes for interesting speculation as to the eventual end of the dead-head threat but it’s not them the survivors really have to worry about anymore.
The media is saturated with post-apocalyptic horror/sci-fi but The Walking Dead remains one of the best due to its consistency, pace, believability and most importantly, its cast of characters. Through Kirkman’s compelling story-telling and Adlard’s expert use of close-ups and facial expressions, you get drawn into their world kicking and screaming, you believe the injustices of what happens in issue 100 and as a result, you want to exact bloody retribution as much as Rick does. And you’d enjoy doing it, too.
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