Robert Kirkman kicks ‘The Walking Dead’ in the ass as he builds to “All Out War.” The stage is set, and the pacing has never been better. Rick’s quest against Negan begins this month and won’t let up anytime soon. Yet, Rick forgets that war and conquest bring casualties.
The issue begins in the dire depths of hell. Rick believes Negan has finally gained the upper hand. Negan’s a confident bastard and makes sure to revel in this moment. His ego circles Rick, and we get slight insight into Negan’s warped mind. Kirkman brings a warped sense of morality to Negan that makes him irresistible to read, but so easy to detest.
Things seem hopeless. Jesus arrives, bringing Negan’s whole plan to shit. For the first time Kirkman allows another character to get the upper hand on Negan, and it is fucking fantastic. Jesus kicks Negan’s ass. Adlard’s art manages to make it look easy. Jesus dodges and counters Negan and his crew. The whole thing culminates as Jesus catches Lucille, gives Negan a mean right hook, and takes him hostage at gunpoint.
As if that wasn’t enough, the cavalry arrive. Finally Ezekiel feels like he is being used, and his absence in earlier issues completely pays off here. The residents of The Kingdom burst into the scene in one of the most riveting moments in the series this far.
Adlard’s art is some of the best he’s ever churned out. The sheer terror in Negan’s eyes as Jesus holds him hostage is perfect. His pencils transform someone we’ve seen as the embodiment of confidence to a scared child in one panel. It’s truly awesome stuff. Adlard gives us a taste of his skills in the midst of a giant battle, and I’m happy to report that “All Out War” has a lot to live up to. A new standard has been set.
The ramifications of this issue are not immediately clear. Negan is incredibly pissed off, and we’re about to head into a year of the largest conflict this comic has ever seen. This war will have many sides, it is clear that some believe in Rick, but not everyone.
My fear is that Negan’s demise will simply be the tip of the iceberg. Ezekiel is a powerful and wise man, and once all other threats are eliminated, where does the violence stop? Kirkman has built an incredible depth to this new story, and things are surely to get even more intense. It is clear that this next year is going to be something truly special. Hopefully this increased pacing keeps up, and the plodding nature of “The Walking Dead” can be a thing of the past. Plus has anyone seen any walkers lately?
Rating: 4.5/5 Skulls.