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Posted on July 11, 2012

For my younger visitors, the comic I'm about to review is not for you.

THE WALKING DEAD is a comic series I have followed monthly since it began. It has been the first read off the pile of comics I receive from Westfield every month for the past 100 issues. I absolutely love the series. It grew my interest in zombie culture to the point where I devour most zombie novels that shamble down the publishing lane. It also drove me to write my own zombie epic, TURNCOATS. Heck, it's even gotten me to involve my wife in my undead passion. She watches the TV show with me. Of course, she turns away when the gory bits come on screen.

Today, Kirkman and company got me to do another first – I bought my first digital comic. I couldn't wait until next week when my comic shipment would arrive. I had to read #100 now.

It's also forced me to achieve yet another first, this comic review. I'll attempt to be gentle and not have any spoilers, but I can't guarantee it. After all, I'm a bit new to reviewing.

Issue 100 is a landmark, both in the creative and business sense. At no time has an independent publisher hit the number one spot. I sincerely hope it will spark a change in the status quo and cause more creators to go out and try their own properties.

#100 delivers. It achieves so much with the characters. There's a turning point that is impactful and horrifying. Tragedy is brought to bear on our cast yet again. Only this time it feels so much more personal and harder to overcome. While I doubt the book will turn into a solemn exploration of subjugation, I wouldn't put it past Kirkman to go that route for an arc or two. Lucille's arrival is pivotal to the story. She delivers a message and is the perpetrator of an unspeakable act I don't want to say, because, you know, spoilers.

Negan's group is ruthless and without pity. They are takers and survivors. The issue brings up the question of just what it takes to survive in a world so wrong. I've always thought that after a disaster like a zombie infestation, only the strong would survive. That those already hardened in life could endure the sacrifices in ethics that would be a daily tribulation. Survivors wouldn't, couldn't, be golden boys and founts of virtue. Hands would have to get dirty and stay dirty for generations. The society that would be built would be brutal and have no place for the weak. Might would beat down any emotional ties, leaving the survivors lifeless and without remorse.

At the end of the issue, I have no idea what our cast will do. The hopeful side of me wants them to not take what happened lying down, to rise up and exact revenge. But my moral side knows that would strip them of even more of their humanity, and I wonder if that is still a story worth telling. I think it is. They have to learn how much of themselves they are willing to sacrifice in order to survive.

Once again, THE WALKING DEAD is about the humanity within all of us and just how much we choose to embrace or deny it. It's not just the zombies who are scarred and disfigured in Kirkman's and Adlard's world. While some belittle the series as descending into predictability and thematic repetition, I don't see it. I'm in this book for the long haul. It's a journey I'm willing to take for another hundred issues.


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