Published by Image Comics with Skybound Entertainment

Robert Kirkman                Writer and Creator

Charlie Adlard                   Pencils and Inks

Cliff Rathburn                    Grey Tones

Rus Wooton                     Letters

 

OK I have something to admit. The Walking Dead  is on issue 108, it has been running for five years, it has spawned a television series which is now on its third season, two (soon to be three) prequel novels, two videogames, two webseries, a theme song,  a board game, a  lunchbox, numerous action figures, watches, bags, hats, various soft toys, several calendars, countless  T-shirts,  a massive fan base, even a fricking onesie and in all this time I have never read a single panel.

I had my reservations about starting on #108 because it is such an involved story with so many splintered fractions and characters. However, as long as I kept in mind my basic knowledge that this was set somewhere in post zombie apocalypse America, the rest made perfect sense.

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In this issue Carl suffers a near miss attack due to his missing right eye. He announces that he is worthless and perhaps this will build into something during the coming issues but I think it works unaided to demonstrate his grief and insecurities. Meanwhile Jesus takes Rick to visit Ezekiel in The Kingdom to discuss what to do about Negan after Carl’s revelations. He’s looking to form an alliance with King Ezekiel but by shocking coincidence so is someone else.

Ezekiel makes a fair impression in his debut. He seems well respected but slightly deluded to comedic effect. The Kingdom he rules is a fortified high school and his throne sits upon the stage in the school hall with cut-out scenery forming the backdrop of castle turrets. He wears a long cloak like coat, carries a golden staff and has feathers in his hair. He also has guards who resemble Roman centurions and ride around on horseback shouting; “Who dares trespass on the sovereign land”.  It does seem a little bit ‘emperor’s new clothes’.  The King confesses that he is a self pronounced ruler but his intentions towards his people do seem honourable. There is another, hidden, level to him, a more sinister mindset that shows itself when he talks of his hatred for Negan. I expect whatever has set them at odds will come to the forefront very soon. Oh did I forget to mention the tiger?  Ezekiel has a tiger. No explanation of how he got her but she’s called Shiva and I think she makes a quirky addition to his persona.

More is revealed about Negan’s twisted values and tyrannical rule. It seems that not only have the people in Saviours territory got to deal with the aftermath of total devastation and constant fear of the walkers attacking, but they also have to live in terror of their leader.

This title’s strength is Kirkman’s writing. Although it’s had a long run he still constantly reminds us of the emotions these people are feeling. The small intimate scenes, that really work to add depth of character, are what make this book stand out.  The art does its job nicely but it’s nothing visually astounding.  Its real feat has probably been in the rate of production and longevity of the series. It also allows for the story to be told so seamlessly by taking a backseat and not interrupting or detracting from it.

Within the story there is now a new purpose for Rick and this appears to be a turning point for the book. I think we will see a lot more of HRH Ezekiel, hopefully a wakeup call for Negan and maybe even a tiger fight.  However, after one issue, I’m sure as hell that everything won’t go to plan.

Many thanks and CHABOOM to A Place In Space for providing the comic.

by Beth Slater