Robert Kirkman, you little trickster you! Okay, let me preface this entire review by saying the end will have a spoiler. It’s necessary that I give up this spoiler – if I just describe the other ninety five percent of Walking Dead #102, you will never want to pick up the series again. I warned when this whole Negan thing began that Kirkman would shoot himself in the foot if he dragged out the beef for too long. Glenn’s brutal death has brought out the bloodthirsty vengeance in readers and we need to be satiated.
That satiation will not happen here. Walking Dead #102 is a talker. Nothing happens, absolutely nothing. Opening with Andrea punching the captured member of Negan’s gang indicates good things on the way. From there we get conversation, lots and lots of conversation. Rick tells Andrea to stop beating up the prisoner. Then Jesus – the leader of the other commune who Rick planned to protect, which brought Negan down on his head – has a conversation with one of Rick’s crew about what comes next.
Rick has a conversation with Carl about the future, and then he has a lengthy and drawn out conversation with Andrea about how he feels weak and unable to protect his crew or the other community from Negan’s vicious nature. Rick talks to a few more people, mainly Michonne, about his options, and then announces to his followers that he’s not going to attack Negan and they will stand down in order to keep the peace. At this point, the whole crew hates Rick, but nobody will have more hate than the reader. Peace? How long is this peace thing going to last? When do we get our bloody revenge? When did Rick become a pussy? What the hell is going on? Fear not, true believers, Robert Kirkman is simply messing with us.
Okay, here comes the spoiler. You ready? The very last page is the spoiler, so last chance to turn away.
Rick lets the prisoner go and turns to face his entire crew, who all hate him now, save for Michonne. With looks that could reduce a man to dust, the once-dedicated look at Rick in disgust and walk away. Left alone, Rick turns to Jesus and tells him to get packed while everyone is distracted and then follow the prisoner to Negan’s hideout. Rick wants to know everything there is to know about his new enemy before he strikes. He hasn’t turned yellow or stepped out of character, Rick is trying to get to Negan without endangering everyone else. This one panel, letting us know what’s really happening, saves the entire issue and possibly the series.
Kirkman is under the same weight as before – this issue just bought him a little time. This Negan business needs to get wrapped up fairly quickly. Nobody wants to watch months of a chess game between Negan and Rick – we want Negan to pay. We might be able to stand a lengthy war between the two camps, as long as Rick doing something awful to Negan incites it. Whatever Kirkman has planned, he needs to get on with it. Walking Dead #102 works not because anything happens, but because Kirkman pulls a masterful bait and switch.
I still hate the art.
(3 Story, 2 Art)