“All Out War” has hit peak insanity. Kirkman and Adlard have painted their characters into a corner that won’t be easy to escape from. There is death at every angle. Rick’s camp is falling apart at the seams and Negan’s cocksure attitude is the biggest draw of the month. As Kirkman proves that “The Walking Dead” works best when nothing is going right.
With the concluding pages of last month issue 120 was bound to be an action packed affair. The back and forth nature of this conflict much less resembles an actual war than the clashing of egos. Rick and Negan are so sure of their own success that they are unable to spot the weaknesses in their plans. The back and forth insanity between them proves to be the books biggest draw and what seems like something that should run out of steam only proves to be more fun with each successive issue.
The pacing of the book is incredible compared to the rest of the series. I fear that the series won’t be able to keep up after this arc concludes, but that is beside the point. For know everything is riveting and packed with conflict. There is never a dull moment as a barrage of grenades devastates Rick’s camp.
Adlard keeps pace with the story and revels in the literally explosive action of the issue. This arc has provided him with some unique opportunities and he manages them with incredible creative. He never really breaks the mold with his paneling and has a very standard approach to his character work, but he shines in death. The moments of loss are made big bombastic displays that won’t soon be forgotten and Rick’s feeble attempt to escape with Andrea in tow makes for one of the best splash panels of the series.
The script really shines with Negan. His moments are both comedic and character fueled. He never feels wore out or tired. His volatile energy never ceases to entertain and gives way to his insane cocksure attitude. As much as Rick may be blind to the world around him Negan has made the choice to completely ignore it. It’s telling because for all their similarities Negan is still a little more naïve than Rick.
So it goes with another chapter of “All Out War.” The narrative has yet to hit a slump but somehow still feels a little drawn out. The book always works better in collected format and I’m sure this arc will be no different. Yet, for what it is worth #120 does feel like a pulse pounding race to the finish line that will begin the final chunk of this monumental arc. I’m not entirely convinced that Kirkman will do anything drastic to break the mold of the book after everything here is concluded, but I’m dying to see a major change. Already these past few issues have felt like a breath of fresh air into a book that was largely spinning its wheels since issue 100. Bring on #121.
Rating: 4/5 Skulls.