Written by Guest Contributor: Jordan North WOWZERS! The Walking Dead certainly does know how to make an exit... but I’m getting way ahead of myself. This issue of The Walking Dead is about pretty much one thing and one thing only-- preparation for war-- and what a ripe situation it is for the story telling in particular. Characterization has always been one of the many strong points of these books and what better way to strip back the bullshit and show us what these characters are really made of then to show them getting ready for a battle. A battle that, very realistically, none of them may walk away from. It’s in these moments that some of the best bits of this issue come from.
Right off the bat humor was utilized in this issue and it never really let up. In what is usually a bleak comic it was nice to see all these characters giving up a second to make each other smile. Andrea approaches Rick worried. He reassures her and then asks who was making sounds in the hallway, “It was Michonne. She was smiling.” “Okay, NOW I’m worried” is Rick’s tongue in cheek reply. Or when a character asks about the odds being stacked against them in the impending war and a single question by Andrea absolves all fear, “Do they have a tiger?” Or what about King Ezekiel’s entrance after realizing everyone’s favorite messiah look-alike makes it back to The Kingdom? “Praise god for Jesus has arrived!” It’s the little stuff. While none of these jokes are laugh out loud funny they feel like things real people would say, like things these characters would say, and the fact that sometimes in my mind those two things become interchangeable I think speaks to the quality of Kirkman’s writing. Sometimes I feel as if I know Rick and the gang just as well as any of my own buddies (that joke was SO Rick!).
Other great moments come with a very different tone. Michonne, swooning and smiling after last issue`s romantic chat with King Ezikiel, rolls over in bed with her sword left hanging in the foreground. But just as quickly as the smile broke across her face, Michonne’s standard stoic looks returns and she berates herself and grabs up her katana and falls asleep clutching it to her chest. Also back at camp Jesus tries to take on a Rick-esc role and everyone just pretty much thinks he’s an asshole.
...and then there’s Neegan, who bursts onto the scene like a horny pirate and proceeds to do one ridiculous thing after another. Let me just first say, I know this guy is the villain and all, but his entrance to Rick’s camp was goddamn hilarious. “Knock, knock. Who’s there? OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR!” The stupidity of the type of joke he chooses paired with answering his own question and the vulgarity of the punch-line actually made me chuckle out loud. He then proceeds to sexually harass Olivia and berate pretty much everyone in the camp including his own men. He’s a guy I’ve grown to love to hate. He is a fucker to be sure, but you can’t say he’s not an entertaining one. Spoilers Ahead
But it’s the end of this issue that really takes the cake, Spencer has been a punk ass for a long time and a character we don’t like very much, but he approaches Neegan with a plan to help him conspire against Rick. What happens is shocking to say the least and brilliant writing on Kirkman’s part. Neegan and Spencer take a walk, allegedly to Spencer’s house to shoot some pool and plot some murder. But as Spence attempts to cajole our villain into the plan there is a marked switch in his mood and, in a twist, Neegan actually reveals that he knows Rick hates him but takes on deals with him and does what needs to be done for the group and talks about how that takes guts and with that... he spills Spencer’s organs all over the ground with his bowie-knife. “YOU GOT NO GUTS...OH HOW EMBARRASSING, THEY WERE INSIDE YOU THE WHOLE TIME!” Jesus, what a curve ball. The brilliance of the writing here is that Spencer’s death is kind of an honor killing on Neegan’s behalf, one for Rick of all people. To show that his honor is that deep says something noble lies deep inside Neegan’s sinister exterior, it’s just... he guts an innocent man and then cracks a joke about it to illustrate it. Making this simultaneously the most heinous and redeeming thing we’ve yet seen his character do. Compelling stuff. Brilliant writing. Good issue. Go buy.
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Charlie Adlard
Publisher: Skybound and Image Comics
Release Date: 6/12/13