We all knew that the build up to "The Walking Dead" #100 meant that something drastic was going to happen. After Rick's controversial decision to make a trek to The Hilltop at the end of that last issue was followed by a look at Negan's people watching over the now-emptied town, things were lined up for something tragic.
True enough, this issue delivers. It is not, however, the massive rampage of blood and guts I expected it to be. Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard deliver something much smaller, but just as effective, creepy, tense and sad. You don't quite know how it's going to end until it does and then it seems obvious. Credit to Kirkman for setting up events so that they pay off logically there.
Kirkman also reveals himself to have quite the potty mouth. Not that these characters aren't prone to fits of language, but the Big Bad Guy in this issue goes on an entertaining tear. There's also one or two bits of meta-commentary thrown in that made me giggle. If you've followed the letters column and general discussion of the series on the Internet over the years, you'll recognize a couple of frequent comments against the book show up in the mouth of the bad guy here. It adds a slightly lighter touch to an otherwise scary moment.
In the end, things have changed yet again for the title. The situation that was once under a little bit of control seems to have spiraled out once more. Pulling things back together will be tough, as raw nerves are frayed and the trust amongst the survivors is questioned. This isn't the end of this particular movement of the series. It's the turning of a corner into a new mode that might take some time to straighten out. Just when you thought the survivors had things figured out again, things go from bad to worse.
The price tag is an extra dollar this month for an issue that runs 30 pages. The thing is, the pacing is so well controlled that you won't notice the extra length. The story feels just about right, as far as its length goes. It's only when you're done and go back to add them up that you realize the bigger page count.
Charlie Adlard gets a lot of things to draw in this issue that wouldn't excite many artists, from people in cramped quarters to boring nighttime landscapes to crowd scenes and talking heads. With all of the action happening at night, the art feels a little heavier with more solid black areas -- but it doesn't feel like a cheat, just an artistic choice. Given the speedy pace this book has been on to time this issue for release during Comic-Con International at San Diego, the art holds up well. Andrea has an arm that feels very short on page two, but that's it. This doesn't feel like a rush job, particularly when you see all the detail Adlard includes on the page he's talked about in recent interviews as being amongst the sickest things Kirkman has asked him to draw. I'm still trying to get it out of my mind. (This is probably why I don't watch horror movies.)
For an issue many expected to be an ending or a major turning point in the overall story, "The Walking Dead" #100 leaves me feeling more anxious for the next issue rather than satisfied at the conclusion of a movement. But it's still a heck of an issue, with a pivotal scene that many long-time readers will have stuck in their minds for a while to come.