Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler/inker: Charlie Adlard
Gray Tones/Cover Colors: Cliff Rathburn
One of the treats of being a long time fan of The Walking Dead comic series is watching writer Robert Kirkman go from spinning a somewhat typical zombie survival tale to crafting a expansive setting that could rival the world building of George R. R. Martin. Of course there are other groups of survivors similar to Rick and his people- some more successful than others- and Kirkman has gone to great lengths the past couple of years establishing the other communities and power brokers that rub elbows in the post apocalyptic, zombie filled country. We have Rick's adopted settlement, Alexandria. There's also the squeamish folks over at the Hilltop, and the feudalistic "Kingdom", lead by the eccentric King Ezekiel, who carries a sword and leads a tiger (yes, a tiger... essentially the entire last issue was spent explaining how that could be remotely possible) around on a leash. And of course, we have the nomadic "Saviors", headed out by the brutal Negan.
Kirkman has allowed for the comics to tell a slow burning story in which we see how Negan and the Saviors directly effect these settlements through intimidation and full on terror (The Saviors demand regular tributes of supplies from settlements in exchange for "protection"), and how the leaders of the established communities deal with it. For several issues, Rick has been gathering support for an offensive against the Saviors, and though he's met some resistance, it seems to be going well; Rick will soon be returning the Alexandria with a promising band of fighters comprised of volunteers from all the surrounding communities.
This issue, it seems things might get a bit complicated.
Negan and some of the Saviors personally show up to Alexandria to collect his tribute early, to find Rick absent. The locals tell Negan Rick is away gathering supplies for him, and though Negan plays it cool, you sense as a reader that he suspects something is afoot, and insists on staying in Alexandria until Rick returns. The tension for next issue builds, knowing Rick and his new crew might be facing Negan earlier than expected.
Negan has become infamous to fans of WD for his unmatched levels of cruel violence, and he does not disappoint in this issue. Readers are itching for Rick to finally give Negan his comeuppance, but it's likely going to get messy before that happens... IF it happens.
Zombie Kill Count: 1
Human Kill Count: That would be telling.
Available June 12
32 pages, black and white.