Were you expecting the earth to move with Walking Dead #100?
Did you think maybe Walking Dead #101 would start a ball rolling that would blow the hinges off anything we’ve read from the series in past years?
Yeah, well, better luck next time.
Walking Dead #101 is a next step issue. After the events of issue 100 left Glenn dead and Rick and his crew facing the double barrels of Negan and his cohorts, issue 101 is simply what happens next. The group who watched Glenn die by Negan’s hand regroups, exchange un-pleasantries, blame Rick and then head to The Hill to show their new friends what Negan is capable of. There’s a tense moment where Rick beats the piss out of The Hill leader for not communicating exactly what Negan was and how many men he had. Finally, Rick and the rest return to find Negan’s followers have attacked their home base. The attack is unsuccessful and even leaves Rick’s crew a hostage that might come in handy.
That’s essentially everything that goes on in Walking Dead #101. There’s no rush to vengeance, no rise of The Hill members to descend on Negan with the fiery vengeance of a thousand suns. Issue #101 is just the next baby steps in the group figuring out how to overcome this latest situation of grave danger and excessive bodily harm, which is exactly as it should be. If writer Robert Kirkman had unleashed Hell on Negan and his followers, it might have satiated our bloodlust, but the overall story would be reduced to nothing.
What has always made Walking Dead so wonderful is its humanity, the way Kirkman writes the trials and tribulations of people faced with something we couldn’t possibly understand. Watching the collective fallout on a base human level from Rick’s crew is heartbreaking. Issue #100 made Glenn’s death seem like a superficial plot device to keep the book memorable. Now, Kirkman is injecting some gravitas to the death. Through the eyes of his makeshift family, we get to feel how serious Glenn’s murder is. There is a scene between Carl and Sophie that really puts the entire situation into perspective.
In my review for issue #100, I said that Kirkman would have to make this battle with Negan a quick one in order to preserve momentum. I stick by that claim. I like that Kirkman is giving the characters (and readers) room to breathe before launching the next wave, but if it drags on too long, the Negan thing will get old. Kirkman would also be smart to expand Negan’s character and give him something that makes him unique. Right now, Negan seems a little too much like a Governor retread.
Walking Dead #101 holds true to Kirkman’s humane storytelling and his ability to keep a personal connection to a fantastical story.
I still hate the art.
(5 Story, 2 Art)