By: Robert Kirkman (writer), Charlie Adlard (pencils), Stefano Gaudiano (inks), Cliff Rathburn (gray tones) and Rus Wooton (letters)
THE STORY: Having trapped Negan in his compound, Rick begins the next phase of his plan.
THE REVIEW (WITH SPOILERS): This is an issue that is just "doing work."The big event was when Rick feigned an attack on Negan just so the gunshots from the skirmish would draw the zombies down on Negan's compound and trap him.That was kinda cool and very unexpected, using Zombies as a weapon.Here we just see Rick moving on to wipe out Negan's outposts before they learn that Negan is in trouble.That's all fine and I'm sure there will be some interesting bloodshed, but seeing Rick & Co. attack nameless thugs isn't all that exciting.
The more intriguing thing is that Rick sends Michonne back to their home-base to give Andrea and Carl assistance "in case Negan counterattacks."HmmLet's just say that there is a lot of ominous foreshadowing about Andrea and the Alexandria Safe Zone.We have all this talk about Negan making a counterattack.We have Negan's own little speech about how the key to crushing Rick lies in attacking Andrea.We have this thing about how Michonne and Ezekiel are all lovely dovey/flirty before being split up.It seems like Ezekiel is going to do the dangerous thing (attacking the outpost) while Michonne is doing the safer task of guarding the home base.I can't say this is going to end well.I'm not sure what will happen in Alexandria, but all signs point to it being bad.
Negan also gets a nice turn in this issue.The Governor was never this interesting.Seeing his little speech where he thinks he has Andrea in his grasp, only to realize that it is really someone else with short hair was really cool.That single panel where he realizes his mistake, turns his head to the side, squints his eyes shut and squeezes the bridge of his noseAwesome job, Charlie Adlard!That is just what people look like when they're frustrated and realize that a strand of hope has been ripped away.I also loved that Negan has a very keen tactical sense.He knows that it was hopeless to fight through the zombies.His bravado wants him to kick ass, but he is too smart to do something hopeless.But then he also realizes that they are dead meat if they sit trapped in the compound for very long.I can't wait to learn more about Negan.Who was this guy before?He's too smart to just be some common thug.I wondered for awhile if he was some ex-high school jock who had a loser job before the apocalypse and he is now getting to relive his big man on campus days. But Negan is way too bright, aggressive and tactical to imagine him with a loser job.I love that he's such a rich character that I'm actually starting to wonder about his past and ascribe personality traits to him that haven't been exhibited on the page.
Holly?I still don't care.I just don't.I mean, I hope she doesn't die, but I can't say I'm very worked up about her fate.Heck, her own friends aren't even very worked up about it.With the exception of Rick, they're all just shrugged it off.
One other interesting thing is the role reversal for the zombies.Have we ever cheered for the zombies before?They've always been a threat to Rick & Co. Now they are a threat to the bad guys.I don't recall the Governor ever being threatened by zombies.I don't think zombies even came up when the Hunters were preying on Rick's group.I'm not really sure that it merits much more comment, but I did notice the change of perspective while reading.
The art is again great andit isn't suffering at all from the addition of Gaudiano as inker.So much of TWD is knowing these characters as people and we have Charlie Adlard to thank for that.I guess part of the reason that Negan is so charismatic is that Kirkman is writing all this Tarantino-dialog for him, but really if Charlie Adlard wasn't illustrating him so well it wouldn't be the same.You can just tell that Adlard likes drawing the guy.In fact, I wonder if part of my boredom with Rick is that Adlard is sick of drawing him, as he appears visually stale when sharing the page with exciting new characters like Jesus and Ezekiel or characters that Adlard clearly loves (Negan and Michonne).
CONCLUSION: A very solid issue that advances the plot with nothing head-shaking moments for the reader.
- Dean Stell
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