REVIEW: The Walking Dead #115
One of the most anticipated comic issues of the year arrives in The Walking Dead #115, which marks chapter one of the twelve-issue All Out War event. What has been delivered is a solid start in which Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard lay the foundation for what will most likely become a bloody and intense post apocalyptic battle between rival surviving factions.
The biggest strength of this issue is in how Kirkman and Adlard combine to remind the reader of what these characters have to live for at this point in the series. At the beginning of this comic, Rick is shown as truly happy as he wakes up next to Andrea. These opening scenes effectively portray this relationship and how it is an equal romantic partnership. Later in the story, Rick, Andrea, and Carl share a tender moment that pushes forward the theme of unity within Rick’s household. There is a new family dynamic here that gives more weight to Rick’s plans to get rid of Negan for the safety of both his community and his new family. Though Carl’s eye scars and Andrea’s cuts and bandages are a sharp reminder of the harsh reality and danger of the current world, Kirkman wants to convey that this family unit has what it takes to survive and is worth fighting for. Even chances for new love in the form of Michonne and Ezekiel continue to grasp at how important family and friendship is, which is constantly threatened by Negan’s presence. Kirkman’s focus on these relationships serves to only raise the stakes for the important battles to come.
The Walking Dead #115 also pushes forward the story to get to the war that has been brewing for many past issues, as Grimes and his allies are at Negan’s front door by the end of the chapter. This quickened pace ensures that the upcoming event will not be full of set up sections and delayed times before the main event. It is a smart move by Kirkman to have Negan’s plans and actions remain a secret, as his character is at his strength when he is surprising and unpredictable. What is also a great storytelling decision is to have Rick’s ultimate battle plan a secret as well to the reader, which will make for potentially interesting twists and turns to come in future issues. The final twist is an intriguing one that does come out of left field a bit, but perhaps it may be explained more in a future issue of this event.
At this point in the series, Charlie Adlard’s pencil style is synonymous with The Walking Dead, and this issue has many standout moments. Keeping with Kirkman’s focus on family, Adlard effectively portrays these sections, especially in the panels featuring Rick, Carl, and Andrea. Though his style certainly gives off a nihilistic and grim vibe, here Adlard shows the happiness that these characters can still feel even in these dying times. There are a few splash pages that he has to work with in this issue, and Adlard uses them expertly. Whether it is to convey hope through a light colored panel of Rick giving a speech or a darkened group shot of the allies ready to make war, Adlard makes these moments count in their duality of humanity’s best and worst sides. Special mention to inker Stefano Gaudiano and gray toner Cliff Rathburn for keeping the issue’s visuals very strong even with the twice a month schedule for the coming months.
The Walking Dead #115 is a solid start to the All Out War event, as Kirkman is able to get some powerful yet quiet family drama into the proceedings before the coming war. However, the quickened pace allows for the issue to bring the war right away by the end and give hope for a long, intense, and certainly interesting battle to come.
The Walking Dead #115 gets a 4/5