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Review: Walking Dead #99 – a solid poker face

Issue: Walking Dead #99
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Pencils: Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: 6/20/2012

‘SOMETHING TO FEAR’ CONTINUES! The unthinkable happens, as we all gear up for next month’s monumental issue 100!

Story: 8/10 • Artwork: 8/10 • Overall 8/10

This is an average issue for anyone who has read Walking Dead. Issue 99 is the set-up to Walking Dead #100, where all hell should break loose. So, with all the hype over issue 100, issue #99 comes off bland. It,s like the power went off half way through a really good movie. This story-arc will read better in trade paper back form.

The book is bland because there is no great cliff-hanger at the end of this issue, but that is the way Kirkman planned it out. Kirkman wants the hype to be insane surrounding issue 100 and you don’t get that if you show your hand to quickly. Kirkman wants Walking Dead fans to burn-down San Diego Comic-Con with excitement. Walking Dead #100 comes out on July 11th, 2012, the first day of Comic -Con.

Walking Dead #99 is the calm before the storm, we hope…

Follow Matthew Sardo on twitter @comicavult

Review: The Walking Dead # 95 In A Larger World Part Three – Jesus Vouches for Rick, Knife Fight Ensues.

Written by: Robert Kirkman
Art by: Charlie Adlard
Coloring by: Cliff Rathburn
Cover By: Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn
Publisher: Image

Alright! Here we go, time to roll up your blood stained sleeves and dig in! The pussyfooting stops right here! The Walking Dead  #95 finally delivers on the promise of exciting new stories with outsiders. Jesus vouches for Rick and his crew and they granted access to a massive walled-in community. There’s two hundred plus people in this well-established community and a bad-ass hotel that acts as kind of headquarters.  We introduced to the boss of the town that looks like a combination between a casino-owner and sleazy used-car salesman. He thinks he’s the shit, and let’s Rick know it.

Right in the middle of giving Rick the five-cent tour there is suddenly some action. One of their other scouts is back from a peace-keeping pow-wow and shit didn’t go over too well. Rick can’t seem to keep the fuck out of trouble if his life depended on it. Which in this case it might. After big-boss man get’s into with his scout, Rick finds himself in the middle of a knife fight. I can’t give away too much more than that, but some serious shit goes down. Fucking Rick… Jesus vouched for you, and you get into a fight like 5 minutes later. Is that how you repay him? Christ almighty!! In all seriousness though, it looks like this trading expedition is going to end badly for Rick’s camp. Everything seemed to be on the level, but this turn coat scout flipped the fuck out and ruined everything. The story is pretty wide-open from here and it sets up an interesting conflict that can be explored in various different tangents. It ends in a Kirkman signature cliffhanger that leave you guessing and wanting more. My guess is that in part 4 all hell breaks loose and we are going to see some serious human on human violence. It should prove interesting.

The art team on this continues to knock it out of the park. Adlard & Rathuburn constantly delivers what the story ask for. In this case it’s scope, scale, and little bit of opulence and a ton of grit. The walled-in community looks huge, and that hotel was lavishly rendered. The knife fight was exciting and absolutely grimy. Blood, mud, ruckus; it felt like a scene cut straight from Deadwood. My only critique is on conceptual aspects of the cover. The way it’s composed it feels more like a panel than a cover. There’s just a bit too much negative space on the top and all the action is crammed on the bottom. It’s fucking nitpicky, I know, but when you are executing on such a high-level that’s the sort of thing that stands out. A solve would be to pull back a little on the scene an reveal more of the fight, or even use an overhead shot and get it all in. But really, when all is said and done, it’s one of the most consistently good-looking black & white books out there.

 In A Larger World is shaping up to be quite the arc. What started as a slow-burn has ignited into an explosive and fresh story for The Walking Dead. War, siege, feuds, raids are all on the table now. The stage is set for conflict and I for one am ready for an epic warlord saga in the world of a zombie apocalypse. Like Game of Thrones but with zombies. Check out this issue and see what all the fuss is about.

Story: 9
Art: 9

Jerry Nelson

Follow me on twitter and tell me what you think @the_hellhounds

Image Expo exclusives all 6 covers

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Image Comics Wednesday released all the exclusive covers for Image Expo, the covers include The Walking Dead #94, Glory #23, Thief of Thieves #1, The Darkness #100, Chew #24 and Artifacts #14. Image Expo will rock the Bay Area February 24, 25 and 26 at the Oakland Convention Center.

Posted on February 13, 2012

Attendees of Image Expo, taking place February 24, 25, and 26 in Oakland, California will get something else in addition to excellent programming, array of exhibiting publishers and artists, and face time with their favorite collectors — the chance to get six comics with convention-exclusive covers.

The first 5,000 attendees of Image Expo will receive a free copy of THE WALKING DEAD #94 by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn with an exclusive cover picturing Michonne, katana at her side, atop an intertwined mass of zombies.

An exclusive GLORY #23 featuring a new cover by Ross Campbell and the slogan “FIGHT CENSORSHIP” will benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and will be available only at the CBLDF booth.

Other exclusive covers are THE DARKNESS #100, featuring a sketch cover by Marc Silvestri; ARTIFACTS #14 with art by Stjepan Sejic and a blank back cover for attendees’ favorite artists to sketch on, THIEF OF THIEVES #1 with art by Shawn Martinbrough, and CHEW #24 with art by Rob Guillory.

The Image Expo convention-exclusive variant covers will be available in limited quantities. For more information about Image Expo, visit www.imagecomicexpo.com.

Review: Walking Dead # 93 Rick is Spinning Wheels in a Larger World Because He doesn’t Trust Jesus

Written by: Robert Kirkman
Art by: Charlie Adlard
Coloring by: Cliff Rathburn
Cover By: Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn
Publisher: Image


Walking Dead #93 I always read the Walking Dead first. It’s probably one of my favorite comics, and it’s one that I’m the most excited for. Being a rabid fan of the Walking Dead I get frustrated when there is filler issues, or the calm before the storm. Having a slow-burn in comic form doesn’t always work for me, and I just want to get to the juicy plot and get on with it. Unfortunately the beginning to the Larger World arc starts off spinning wheels in the mud and going over ground covered before. It’s just a stack of exposition and waffles this issue.

The story thus far: Rick, Michonne, and Abraham ran into a hostile survivor on one of their scout patrols. After a brief scuffle it’s revealed he’s come to offer a trade route to a network of communities. His name is Jesus. So here it is, a promised land of society trying to get back on its feet in the face of a the zombie apocalypse. “A Larger World” opens on the cliffhanger from last issue as Jesus describes the trade routes and how it works. So Rick is like, “oh, okay great, no problem, when can we get started,” and Jesus is surprised that this is going so easy. Then Rick beats the piss out of the poor guy and captures him for interrogation. I can see where this is going. Rick doesn’t trust Jesus and is paranoid that he’s from a crew ready to attack their town and raid supplies. I can understand. He hasn’t exactly had any luck with outsiders, like the Governors cannibalistic society of neo-Romans, where he lost his arm about 50 issues ago. Rick decides to prepare his town for war, while he takes a patrol out to see if he can spot Jesus’s war party. Andrea makes an interesting point and asks “what if he is telling the truth and they are blowing a chance to trade with these other communities?” Exactly, thank you Andrea.

Longtime reader’s of The Walking Dead can spot a painful exposition dump coming a mile away, and unfortunately we get a couple of doozies this issue. Now don’t take this the wrong way, I love Kirkman’s plotting. I think he always takes us on an unexpected and somewhat realistic journey with his stories.The twists, turns cliffhangers, and shocking conclusions are why I keep coming back for more. However kills me with the drawn-out explanations and waffling. Literally he can talk a situation to death (or until a zombie attacks). He sorely needs to use the “Pope in the Pool” method of burying exposition by drawing the audience’s eye to something visually startling (like a pope swimming in a pool) to distract them from the information overload. The preparation for war monologue is particularly involved and not much fun to look at. After Kirkman lays it all out for us we are graced with one decent character moment from Eugene who brings up a good idea about recycling ammo casings and trying to re-make bullets. Later there’s a brief brush of desperate tension with him and the girl lives with who used fuck Abraham. Hopefully this will seed into some kind of interesting conflict down-the-line.

Out on war patrol Rick, Michonne, and Abraham stumble upon a pack of zombies and dispatch them rather quickly and quietly. In fact they are so ruthless and efficient that its sparks a debate about why they are worried about some attack from unknown survivors, when they aren’t even phased by the living dead anymore. A “Pope in the Pool” opportunity is missed here and instead of waffling and postulating while killing zombies (not realistic, but interesting and exciting) Kirkman instead saves it for a nice boring walk in the woods. Man sometimes this really does feel like the Talking Dead. I get it. To move this story further they have to trust Jesus (never thought I’d say that about this comic) and go through these trade routes to meet the other communities involved. We all knew this was going to happen. It had to. I wish it could have just been half the issue dedicated to Rick being in character and not trusting anything new, than waste the whole book going nowhere. Maybe it bought the creators some time, but c’mon bring on the “larger world” already. I’m amped for what’s coming around the bend, it’s just not happening fast enough.

While the plot may be on pause this issue, at least it looks freaking’ fantastic. Ever since issue 7 when Charlie Adlard took over the art for The Walking Dead, it’s truly found its true voice. Not taking anything away from the spectacular characters designs from original artist, Tony Moore, but Adlard gave the Dead a consistently stark and realistic tone that draws you into the world. I favor Moore for his fine detail, but Adlard wins with atmosphere. This issue he teams up with Cliff Rathburn to assist with “coloring” (it’s black & white so maybe “toning” would be more accurate). Striking thick brush strokes and sublime ink washes depict the dystopian mood of The Walking Dead. Zombies are husks of meat, ravaged by rigor mortis and time. They are desperately primal and echo the human condition. Devoid of all emotion except rage, they drip with terror and move with murderous intent. Adlard’s action scenes are as violent and intense as they are fluid, showing real athleticism and energy. The survivors have been through the ringer and it shows. I can see their stink, their weariness and strength. The weight on their shoulders is carried with gritty artistic flair. It feels very much like the world of Romero’s classic Night of The Living Dead. Adlard displays cinematic style through dynamic camera angles, shot scale, and a strong use of shadow and light. The spotted-black patterns of leaves, blood and rot paint the transgressive theme of this series with fervor and zeal. In short, the zombie apocalypse has never looked so good.

Like any good TV show, some episodes are needed to set the stage for things to come. It’s a necessary evil. This issue was needed to add realism to the characters shifting attitude, and to stay true to the series’ history. I really wanted to jump ahead and skip all that. I’m an impatient asshole, what can I say. I blame the internet. New beginnings are promised to be on the horizon however. As long and Kirkman and crew can deliver on that promise than we are all good. I trust that he will. There’s a lot narrative and thematic possibilities that a “larger world” could open up. However if they fail and slip back in to the big threat while zombies attack formula, rinse and repeat… it could prove fatale for the series. I don’t think that will happen though. Kirkman saw that a change was needed to shake things up and has done a lot of groundwork setting up a smooth transition. We can only wait and see if the pay-off will be worth it.

Story: 5
Art: 8

Jerry Nelson

Follow me on twitter and tell me what you think @the_hellhounds