In celebration of all the ghouls, ghosts, goblins, vampires, werewolves, monsters, costumed shenanigans, and, of course, ZOMBIES, I now present the Happy Halloween edition of my lil’ comic review column. This week we’ll be chewing on The Walking Dead’s milestone 100th issue. Now gather ‘round all you gruesome slow shuffling Deadheads, and read up while you scarf down your candycorn and bloody brains!
The Walking Dead #100 is a $3.99 comic book published by Image Comics, and originally released on July 11, 2012. This issue was written by series creator Robert Kirkman, with pencils and inks by Charlie Adlard, gray tones by Cliff Rathburn, and lettering by Russ Wooton. This issue also has an entire undead horde of variant covers! The cover credits are as follows: Cover A by Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn, Cover B by Marc Silvestri & Sunny Gho, Cover C by Frank Quitely, Cover D by Todd McFarlane & John Rauch, Cover E by Sean Phillips, Cover F by Bryan Hitch & John Rauch, Cover G by Ryan Ottley & John Rauch, Cover H by Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn, Cover I by Charlie Adlard.
The Walking Dead #100 opens with a group of three men planning an attack on another faction and biding their time before launching their attack at dawn. The scene then switches to main group of the series’ and their encampment and cuts to a few panels showing what people in the camp are doing, before taking us into a scene of Rick and his crew in a van trying to make it where they’re going before nightfall. The group discusses whether or not they should stop and make camp for the night, and they eventually decide it would be best to stop and make camp while it is still daylight. Once darkness sets in, Michonne takes the first watch while the others sleep in the van. Her shift is rather uneventful and she comes across only one zombie, on the perimeter of the camp, that she promptly slices and dices with her katana. Rick takes the next watch, but his shift is unfortunately not nearly as uneventful. Rick doses off and a group of men gets the drop on him. The others are awakened by the gunshot the men use to signal their leader Negan and the rest of their gang, The Saviors. By the time the others react to the ruckus the men already have a shotgun to Rick’s head. Rick and his crew are quickly surrounded by fifty Saviors and are completely at their mercy. Negan now demands payback for Rick and his people killing two groups of his men, and the payback he demands is not going to be pretty. Negan also demands that Rick and his people now work for him and orders them to hand over half of their things, but not before he dishes out punishment for the killing of his men. Negan intends to beat one the Rick’s people with his barbed wire baseball bat named Lucille, for the purpose of breaking their will and scaring them into obedience. To decide who’s going to be the recipient of his beating, Negan resorts to a chilling use of the old school eeny meeny miny moe, while Rick and company wait helplessly to see which of them will be the unlucky winner. I won’t spoil who he chooses, but I will tell you guys that the poor bastard doesn’t make it, and it is one of the most brutal and depraved beatings I have ever seen in a comic book. Negan and his Saviors are total savages, and he’s more of a monster than any zombie! Negan leaves them and their dead friend with the promise to return in one week for the half of their things that he demanded earlier.
Off to the art department! Charlie Adlard does an admirable job with his pencils and inks here, especially considering this series is presented in black & white, and because of that, there is a huge burden on him to visually convey the story with no flashy colors and special effects or a colorist to lean on. I think both Adlard’s art and the black & white format of the book do much to drive home the bleak nature of the story and the situations of its characters. Cliff Rathburn deftly applies the gray tones to Charlie Adlard’s pencils and inks, with great success. Rathburn’s gray tones give the art depth and definition and make it that much more immersing. The art of The Walking Dead #100, as a whole, is stripped down, bare bones, dynamic, raw, and extremely fitting of the material.
My final impressions of this issue were not what I expected going in, since I’ve never been a fan of zombies and zombie stories. The book is very much about the struggles of the various factions of human survivors and their conflicts and interactions with each other. The zombies themselves are almost secondary, and seem to be as much of a plot device to set the stage for and be the motivating factor for the action and interplay between the opposing groups of people as they are the enemy of all the people. I thought Kirkman leaned on using profanity a bit much with his dialogue for Negan, to try and get across how much of a violent scumbag he is, though. I also think that presenting this book in black & white is an interesting and smart choice. If The Walking Dead was in full color it would come across as a much more of a simple gore fest, as opposed to being a series that is more about the brutality of not just the zombies, but of the human beings and the way of life they’ve been forced into because of the zombies that have ravaged the landscape.
I give The Walking Dead #100 2.5 Long-boxes.
All images are property of Robert Kirkman, LLC.