For a 150th issue, this week’s The Walking Dead is surprisingly mundane. That said, a mundane issue of The Walking Dead is often still a damn good comic book.
Perhaps it’s a testament to all the hype and marketing buzz that surrounds comic book milestones these days, but I really expected something huge, a shocking death or a vital new character’s introduction. Yet despite the important and impactful events of #150, it’s nothing you wouldn’t expect from your average instalment.
For anyone expecting content that will match issue #100’s horrifyingly incredible story, then you’ll be disappointed. This may be a milestone for the series in terms of publishing, but not so much in terms of story.
– Spoilers for the issue follow-
The tagline of the issue is that Rick Grimes is betrayed. Although true, and indeed betrayed he is, I didn’t find the act in question to pack much of a punch. This is due to the fact that one of the betrayers is a loathsome character, who we’ve previously seen hates Rick, and has already considered murder as a solution to their social problems.
The other character involved in the betrayal is someone who just hasn’t had a whole lot of time on the page. Not to mention their involvement, rather than truly shocking, is borderline sympathetic in context of their desperation and grief. Thus the main event seems oddly tame. However, I have to stress this is arguably my own fault for expecting this issue’s main occurrence to be some sort of defining moment, instead of preparing for it to be just another issue in the run, like it is. As another instalment in the ever-expanding tale of The Walking Dead, it’s a good issue.
Outside of the betrayal we get some quick character moments with other cast members, but the most interesting moment is perhaps the direct discussion of what’s been the recent theme of The Walking Dead. Since the time-skip the series has embodied a notably different status quo, with a focus on static communities and reclaiming technology. The Whisperers represent the opposite of our protagonists, they are brutal, cruel, murderous and deliberately avoid technology. This issue addresses that divide as well as the anxiety that engaging the Whisperers could be a slippery slope to destroying this newly recovered slice of civilisation. The stakes this time are now established as being much more than the lives of the characters. This oncoming clash is an ideological battle over the nature of humanity, of whether it’s practical to reclaim the old world or better to abandon it and embrace the brutal reality of the post-apocalypse.
Meanwhile, Charlie Adlard is on point as usual as the issue’s artist. There isn’t a whole lot to say about his art that hasn’t been said a million times before at this point, it’s as good as it’s always been. The characters look great and when it comes to the gore, his dependable strong stomach delivers suitably gruesome scenes as always.
What the issue does beyond its plot developments, is draw a line under 2015’s set of issues and tell us that things are about to be shaken up. The story has been slower recently, as the Whisperer threat was left in limbo, while here Rick and co. are ready to move forward with a new plan. Both Rick and the comic’s creative team seem to be telling us that the time for talk is over. Thus as a joint epilogue/prologue, and the first issue of the new year, #150 does a solid job of getting us on track for what’s to come.