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The Walking Dead #100

July 25, 2012 Leave a comment

July 13, 2012

Title: Something to Fear Part Four

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art: Charlie Adlard
Letters: Rus Wooton
Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn
Cover Art: Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn
Variant Covers: Marc Silverstri & Sunny Gho; Frank Quitely; Todd McFarlane & John Rauch; Sean Phillips; Bryan Hitch & John Rauch; Ryan Ottley & John Rauch; Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn, Charlie Adlard
Editor: Sina Grace
Publisher: Image Comics/Skybound

Let’s hear it for Robert Kirkman, shall we? Aside from a hit TV show and what will likely prove to be the highest-selling comic book of 2012, The Walking Dead is now a member of that ever-shrinking family of comic books that have lasted 100 issues or more… and this for a black-and-white character drama with no superheroes. That’s damn impressive.

Also impressive is the story we get here. Kirkman tells a great story, but he doesn’t go out of his way to make this some huge, mind-blowing, 100th-issue extravaganza. We get extra story pages here, but a lot of it is talking heads stuff. Rick and his friends are going out to take a stand against the mysterious Negal, leader of a group of survivors demanding unfair tributes from the group Rick’s people have fallen in with. Rick and company wind up in a face off with Negal, only to wind up captured, and forced into the most horrible situation a human could place them in.

There’s so much about this comic that’s impressive to me. The fact that the drama can come not from the zombies, but from the still-living, is really just the top of the iceberg to me. The fact that, after 100 issues, Kirkman can still legitimately amp up the drama regarding who will live and who will die… the fact that this issue ends with our heroes at a new low point, a point of rage and grief and pain that the reader will share… it’s remarkable that he can still do that after all this time.

Adlard pours it on this issue, turning out some of his best work. Pain, anguish… gore… he puts it all into these pages, turning out a stark look at a horrible world that’s nevertheless wonderfully entertaining to read.

This book is hard to read. But if it wasn’t, it would be worthwhile.

Rating: 9/10

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The Walking Dead #87

August 8, 2011 Leave a comment

August 1, 2011

Title: Send in the Clone-Bots        

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art:
Charlie Adlard
Gray Tones:
Cliff Rathburn         
Letterer:
Rus Wooton
Cover Artist:
Charlie Adlard
Editor:
Sina Grace              
Publisher:
Image Comics/Skybound

As the town still tries to recover, for some of our cast, things are falling apart. Rick’s guild over Jessie and Ron’s death and Carl’s injury continues to plague him, and even his lifeline to his lost wife seems to be ready to abandon him. Michonne is dealing with things in her own way, and Maggie comes to Rick with a very specific request. This is one of those quieter issues of The Walking Dead – no one dies, no one is in immediate jeopardy, even, and the only zombies we see are the ones Michonne is using to vent some frustrations, something that to her is barely dangerous at all. Yet it’s still one of the most compelling comics being published. The character drama has always been the hallmark of this series. If it weren’t for issues like this one, the issues that make us really care about the characters that we’ve been following, those issues that are full of blood and anguish wouldn’t really mean anything. The big issues may be why we read this comics, but issues like this are what give the big ones meaning.

Rating: 8/10

The Walking Dead #86/Elephantmen: Man and Elephantman #1

July 21, 2011 Leave a comment

July 17, 2011

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art:
Charlie Adlard
Gray Tones:
Cliff Rathburn
Letterer:
Rus Wooton
Cover:
Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn
Editor:
Sina Grace              
Publisher:
Image Comics/Skybound

While Rick Grimes stays glued to the bedside of his comatose son, Carl, the rest of his community is still trying to piece itself back together after the recent zombie incursion. Rosita turns to her only friend, having discovered that Abraham is having an affair with Holly, and Michonne tries to bury Morgan, piecing together her own shattered world in the process. We’re back into one of those “quiet zones” that Robert Kirkman so often attempts to trick us with. At the moment, things aren’t blowing up and nobody is in immediate danger of having their face eaten, so our heroes get to lick their wounds and catch their breath. Interestingly, we also see a shift in Rick’s attitude. Here, despite the fact that Carl could still die at any moment, Rick is planning for a long-term existence in this place. To the readers, who know that in this world “long term” often means until Kirkman decides the characters are too comfortable and starts throwing everything back into upheaval, that seems like a sort of fruitless prospect, but that’s not going to stop him. It’s hard not to respect that.

Adlard and Rathburn do what we want them to do – give us solid artwork with real emotion and a smattering of zombie gore. This isn’t a groundbreaking, earth-shaking issue of The Walking Dead, but it’s a fine example of the sort of character drama that so often exists in-between those issues.

And hey, if that wasn’t enough, we get a flip book this issue for no additional charge! So let’s see what’s in this other comic…

Title: The Devil of the Sixth Heaven (Man and Elephantman Part 1)

Writer: Richard Starkings
Art:
Axel Medellin
Cover:
Axel Medellin
Publisher:
Image Comics

I’ve heard of Richard StarkingsElephantmen series before, but I’ve never read an issue and didn’t really know what it was about. This issue really is a perfect introduction into this world. Evidently, in this universe a race of powerful “Elephantmen” (although other large, powerful animals like rhinos and hippos were also used) were created and bred for war. With the war over, though, the Elephantmen are having trouble assimilating into society. “Hip” Flask, our hero, is an Elephantman and a P.I. But as this issue opens only one of these is true – Flask wakes up as a human, memories of his other life fading, and he gets drawn into a case full of all the sex and murder you could want.

I hate to say, I really liked this issue. It’s a bizarre but well-crafted blend of science fiction and pulp detective fiction in a very unique setting and with gorgeous artwork. Even though this amounts to an “alternate reality” story, it gives me enough of the world of the regular comic that I feel like it’s a place I wouldn’t mind visiting. The time may have come to try seeking out these trade paperbacks, because this is pretty damn cool.

Rating: 8/10

Image Holiday Special 2005

November 30, 2010 Leave a comment

December 7, 2006

Quick Rating: Good

A sampling of Image’s top creators with tales for the holidays.

Writers: Erik Larsen, Scott Kurtz, Eric Stephenson, Mark Smith, Chris Giarrusso, B. Clayton Moore, Jim Valentino, Benito Cereno, Brian Haberlin, Joe Casey, Jay Faerber, Glen Brunswick, Chris Eliopoulos, Robert Kirkman
Art: Erik Larsen, Scott Kurtz, Tim Seeley, Sunder Raj, Steve Seeley, Dan Hipp, Chris Giarrusso, Shawn Crystal, Greg Thompson, Jason Latour, Jim Valentino, John Wycough, Nate Bellegarde, Brian Haberlin, Gabe Bridwell, Cully Hamner, Tom Scioli, Richard Starkings, Jose Ladronn, Chris Eliopoulos, Charlie Adlard
Colors: Bob Pedroza, Jacob Blaake, Nick Filardi, Gabe Bridwell, Brett Evans
Letters: Jim Keplinger, Jimmy Betancourt, Cliff Rathburn, Ray Dillon
Cover Art: Frank Cho
Publisher: Image Comics

I’m a big fan of big, fat Christmas specials, and I love when a comic book company puts together a jam issue of their top creators and characters in such a book. Like any anthology, of course, the final products vary in quality, but overall the 96-page monster Image Holiday Special 2005 was a very satisfying book.

Most of my favorite Image titles were represented well. Scott Kurtz provided a great PVP story about the gang getting invited to the Image Christmas party – and gave us a chance to see the gang in color for once. Chris Giarrusso’s G-Man dug in his heels to combat the menace of the Christmas Tree of Doom (unaware that his foe has a softer side). Jim Valentino gave us a ShadowHawk tale about the young superhero and his father facing their second Christmas without the woman of their lives, the lost wife and mother. Jay Faerber’s Noble Causes provides a very amusing spotlight on the outcast of the book, Frost, who finds time to make a new friend. The Gray Area returns with a story that… well… doesn’t really have anything to do with Christmas, it just happens to take place on Christmas. (I’m not big on such stories – c’mon, if you’re in a Holiday special, give me some cheer.) Chris Eliopoulous’s Buddy Henson gives us a great, funny tale of the boy secret agent, and Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard give us a Walking Dead tale that shows us the first Christmas in a world overrun with zombies.

Other comics are also represented – The Amazing Joy Buzzards, Spawn, Mr. Glum and a Godland story that, frankly, kinda turned me off on the concept of the book.(Santa puffing on a hookah? That just doesn’t work for me.)

Finally, Eric Stephenson, Tim Seeley, Sunder Raj and Steve Seeley sprinkle the book with “Scenes From a Bar on Christmas Eve,” a series of one-pagers that show… well… scenes from a bar. The artwork here specifically is wonderful, and the stories are nice, good little snippets that satisfy quite well.

Your own enjoyment of this issue will vary, of course, depending on how big a fan you are of the creators and comics represented, but overall, I think it’s a pretty good collection. It’s a shame they didn’t do it again this year.

Rating: 7/10