BETRAYED – 6.5/10.
For any comic, let alone an indie comic, to reach 150 issues is a truly incredible feat. It certainly doesn’t hurt that The Walking Dead has been adapted into one of the most successful TV shows in the world. But TWD had already established itself as an unstoppable juggernaut long before the first episode was ever broadcast. What makes this comic so appealing? Why are people still following the post-apocalyptic adventures of Rick Grimes 13 years after issue one was published? Everyone has their own opinion and as a long-time reader I can only speak for myself. For me it’s the characters, watching their journey, seeing how they change and react to the challenges of this new world.
Consider the evolution of Rick, from the frightened man who woke up from his coma to the battle hardened leader, who wears the scars of this new world. Since the post ‘All Out War’ time jump we’ve seen rick as somewhat of an elder statesman, trying to create a stable community within the combined walls of the gathered territories. Alpha and her Whisperers represent a challenge to that community, demonstrated most succinctly by the brutal attack in issue 147 that left multiple members of Rick’s group with their heads on spikes. With the community baying for blood, Alpha’s zombie mega-herd a looming threat and Rick’s decision to turn to old foe, Negan, for advice it seemed like big things were brewing for issue 150.
Issue 100 could be considered amongst the best TWD has ever had. In that episode we were introduced to a charismatic nemesis in Negan and saw the death of one of the book’s most beloved characters. It’s easy to see why people (myself included) assumed issue 150 would be just as impactful, but Kirkman went for a different tact. It’s easy to forget that we are just 3 issues removed from a massacre that left several major characters dead including Rosita and Ezekiel. At this point another huge death could be considered more of a stunt than an effective piece of storytelling. Instead this milestone issue serves to set the scene for the coming trials.
It features as its centre piece an attack on Rick by two community members, frustrated by his refusal to strike back at Alpha. I’d be lying if I said that these pages didn’t set my heart racing, Could Kirkman do it? Could he use this milestone issue to finally kill off Rick? As Rick takes a bite out of his attacker’s throat, Charlie Adlard’s artwork leaves the reader wondering if this is the actions of a desperate man or a hungry zombie. There is a genuine sense of relief when Rick finally spits out a chunk of flesh. Following the attack Rick gathers the community, playing the event to full political effect to announce the formation of an army, a highly manipulative move that results in the gathered masses chanting his name much to the delight of a listening Negan.
Truthfully, this probably wasn’t the thrill packed issue that most people were expecting. Beyond the attack and subsequent rally the only other moments of note were Dwight’s resignation from his post as leader of the Saviours and Carl finally losing his virginity to Lydia. But what this issue did do was create a lot of interesting questions regarding the next stage of Rick’s evolution? What is he becoming and what part will Negan play in his metamorphosis. Since Negan had the opportunity to escape but didn’t his game plan has remained a total mystery. What will come of Rick’s new army? Could the communities withstand the onslaught from the Whisperers’ mega-herd? Robert Kirkman knows the answers to these questions, but clearly he’s not ready to share just yet.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- I still don’t fully trust Lydia. Could her seduction of Carl be part of Alpha’s plan?
- Jesus remained stony faced during the rally, does he not approve of Rick’s decision?
- Did anyone else notice Lydia’s thumb in Carl’s eye socket?
- With Dwight gone could the Saviours go back to their old ways? Are any of them still loyal to Negan?
- Am I the only one who still isn’t particularly sold on The Whisperers?