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The Walking Dead #105

Review by Paul Bowler

Having taken his first tribute from Alexandra and humiliated Rick in front of his friends, Negan and his men drive away with their spoils. Determined to get revenge, Carl secretly hides in the truck and gets a ride all the way back to the Saviors camp. Once they are inside the heavily fortified perimeter of the compound, Carl leaps from the truck and opens fire with an assault rifle, killing some of Negan’s men before he is overpowered by Dwight and brought before Negan.

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The Walking Dead #105 sees Robert Kirckman and Charlie Adlard place Carl right in the heart of enemy territory, leaving us on the edge of our seat as Negan casually takes the boy under his wing and shows him around. We get to see another, even darker side to Negan as we witness the almost fanatical devotion of his followers, who seem willing to submit to his oppressive regime in return for food and shelter from the Walkers.

Negan introduces Carl to his harem of wives before finally being left alone in the tyrant’s private quarters. What follows is both horrifying and tragic as Negan bullies Carl into removing his bandages to reveal the gaping wound where his right eye used to be, reducing Carl to tears as he callously admires the gory wound of ragged flesh and bone. Negan seems to enjoy threatening his trembling captive, goading and taunting him, before making Carl sing a song while he practices some killing moves with his prized baseball bat Lucille (the deadly weapon he used to beat Glen to death with).

With this scene Robert Kirckman shows just why The Walking Dead is the leader of the pack with its uncompromising vision of the Zombie Apocalypse. This brief moment is really unsettling, particularly when Carl breaks down after Negan forces him to confront the reality of his injuries. This series is never afraid to give its characters room to grow and evolve, even though the pace may seem to slow dramatically while the main characters are effectively sidelined for an issue, it is these quiet interludes that make The Walking Dead so riveting. This issue may be devoid of Zombie action, but Charlie Adlard still captures our attention with ever panel as we follow Carl’s progress through this industrial nightmare.

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If the scenes between Negan and Carl weren’t unpleasant enough, what follows is a lesson in just how tight a grip Negan has over his followers. On learning that one of his wives, Amber, has “cheated” on him with her former partner, Negan exacts a terrible punishment on the man. To be chosen as one of Negan’s wives is deemed a privilege, one that will ensure the woman no longer has to earn points to trade for goods inside the camp. However, if she is ever caught with another man, that man must then be punished with a molten hot iron and have the flesh seared from one side of his face so that everyone will always know the shame of what he has done.

As Negan brands the offender before a baying mob, a knowing glance between Dwight and another of Negan’s wives seems to indicate the reasons behind Dwight’s horrible scars. With a wealth of unspoken history between Negan and Dwight conveyed in a single panel, The Walking Dead #105 continues to play with all our expectations, and as Negan leads Carl away to face an uncertain fate we are left wondering how on earth he is going to escape this hellhole alive.