Advance Review: The Walking Dead #114
With the big event All Out War starting next month, things are about to get even crazier than they usually are in the apocalyptic world of The Waking Dead. The last issue before the war begins does deliver a few great moments of action and some very well done dialogue scenes, but also has the problem of feeling like a setup issue for what is to come.
The story picks right where last issue left off, with Rick and his people in an extremely precarious situation at the will of the bombastic villain Negan. The Saviors leader once again has the chance to gloat and rattle off his profanity-laced monologues that are always entertaining to read, both for the sheer insanity and honestly that is displayed at the same time within the passages. Whenever the man is around on page, the element of surprise is always a factor, as he is so unpredictable in his methods. Writer Robert Kirkman cruelly reminds readers of the unforgettable issue #100 with a song that Negan sings as he chooses his next potentially violent decision. With the first half of the book dedicated to Negan and Rick’s showdown situation, there is some thrilling action that takes place with a possible rescue attempt. It is here that a ton of setup in past issues pays off and the benefits of alliances are showcased brilliantly. Kirkman also excels in a few different conversations in the second half of the book involving Rick and other characters. The first is a reminder of how far this book has come both emotionally and maturity wise, while the second conversation serves to reminder the reader why Rick is truly a good person and a worthy protagonist in the world that has gone to hell. Though his morality may have grayed and been compromised quite a bit over the ten years The Walking Dead has been published, Rick Grimes continues to be a compelling person to follow.
The second half of the story does suffer a bit from feeling like it is setting up the book in preparation for All Out War. There are a lot of spinning wheels to make sure everything is at normal for the event to come. Another nagging annoyance is just how much it appears Rick and the rest seem to continually underestimate Negan. Though the man is very insane in his personality, he also has proven to be a tactical genius with his men and that means he is dangerous. Rick’s confidence in how he believes the battle will be won against the Saviors stinks of hubris, and it may prove deadly in the coming battles. However, knowing how smart and methodical Rick can be in his preparations, it is somewhat uncharacteristic to see him so sure of victory against such a dangerous and unpredictable enemy.
Charlie Adlard continues to prove great in the various tasks that Kirkman has commissioned him to illustrate. Hand to hand fight scenes feature a fluidity that works and makes the action flow so well from panel to panel. However, Adlard is also an expert by now at getting effective emotions from the characters, whether or not dialogue is present. The issue opens with a shaded out Rick face, but the reader can instantly feel the pain and emotion he is experiencing as tears flow from the darkened face. Negan seemingly perpetual smile continues to be terrifying, but Adlard in a later scene is able to perfectly elicit a different reaction from Negan that the audience will certainly not be used to seeing. In a late pages panel, the position of the sun over a character’s shoulder is a use of imagery to portray a powerful moment.
With issue 114, Kirkman and Adlard bring the latest chapter of these characters lives to a close, which can feel a bit convenient as All Out War approaches. However, this issue is still a thrill ride in the first half and there is some great character work in the second half to make for an excellent comic. Here’s to hoping that the coming war manages to keep up the twists and turns mixed with gritty visuals that Kirkman and Adlard are now known for!