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The Walking Dead #122

Review by Paul Bowler

[Contains Spoilers]

Negan and the Saviors launched a devastating attack on Alexandria. Only the arrival of Maggie and the reinforcements from the Hilltop managed to force Negan and his forces to retreat. With the town in ruins, Negan is confident this battle has just won him the war. Dr Denise Cloyd manages to save Heath’s life after his leg was blown off by a grenade, despite being bitten by a Zombie (Holly); her valiant effort to treat her boyfriend’s injuries comes at the price of her own life. Once Denise’s funeral is over Rick and the survivors leave Alexandria behind and head for the Hilltop, where they will join forces with Maggie and wait for Negan to make his next move. Amidst all the confusion during the Saviors attack on Alexandria, Eugene and his crew were captured by Negan, and now the Saviours leader is prepared to do whatever it takes to force Eugene into making ammunition for them – threatening to kill his friends and torture him if he refuses to comply.

The incredibly tense and poignant aftermath of this battle still resonates strongly, as Rick had to decide what to do next, while Heath sat with Denise at her bedside waiting for her to finally succumbs to her injuries and die; but he was unable to bring himself to act before Denise “turned” and Michonne stepped in to finish what he could not.

The Walking Dead #122 sees Negan leaving Eugene’s cell, after the Saviors leader confronted his prisoner last issue, having made it clear in no uncertain terms by getting up close and personal with Eugene in the most vile, and degrading, way imaginable, that he would take great pleasure in torturing and mutilating Eugene and his friends if they refused to help the Saviors manufacture and restock their supplies of ammunition. Robert Kirkman continues to allow the suspense to build within the walls of the Saviors base, after Dwight visits Eugene in his cell when Negan has gone. What follows is a nail bitingly tense exchange that readdresses the characters motives and loyalties, one that also inadvertently leads to the discovery of an unexpected ally.

The Walking Dead #122 (Cover)

The tone shifts markedly afterwards, with Rick and the survivors adjusting to their new home at the Hilltop. I really like how Kirkman manages to feature so many characters over the course of this issue, allowing us a greater insight into their lives, and the toll that the war is taking on them. There are some wonderful scenes during these quieter moments at the Hilltop: Andrea watches over Rick while he rests as she guards the perimeter wall, Maggie seeks advice on her new role as leader of the hilltop community from Brianna, we lean a lot more about Jesus, including his real name, and I loved the scene where Michonne pretends to be asleep while Ezekiel explained how his grief affected him. Rick also introduces himself to Earl Sutton the following day, it’s a great little scene, and it will be interesting to see what the blacksmith makes to help Rick out.

The art by Charlie Adlard is as solid as ever, with some great attention to detail. There are some very emotional scenes over the course of this issue, and the characters expressions covey their emotions perfectly. Stefano Gaudiano’s inks also give an added depth and texture to Adlard’s work as well. The moonlight view of the Hilltop looks peaceful, yet eerily haunting, the level of detail in the scene where Ezekiel’s people finally arrive at the Hilltop is stunning, illustrating the vivid contrast between this sanctuary and the stark reality of the Zombie apocalypse just outside the gates, while the lull in the action makes these somewhat introspective moments between the character seem even more intimate and personal than ever before.

Just when you think Negan couldn’t sink any lower, or get any more twisted, he manages to turn your stomach again and goes and does just that! Robert Kirkman has created such a loathsome and despicable character in Negan that you never quite know what he will come up with next. While he may be deranged, this foul-mouthed psychopath has devised a new, and utterly ingenious way  to use the Walkers infection to his advantage, even going to far as to give his beloved baseball bat Lucile a gruesome upgrade that will make her kiss even deadlier.

The eighth chapter of All Out War is a brilliant character driven issue as the survivors regroup at the Hilltop. Now that all their forces are united Rick and his allies begin to plan their next move, while Negan prepares to strike back in the most horrible way imaginable. The Walking Dead #122 will have you on the edge of your seat, especially during the closing moments, and it will leave you eagerly awaiting the next issue.