The Walking Dead #96 is anticlimactic. Recently, the cover for issue 100 was revealed and it looks to be a doozy of a read. Whatever is coming for Rick Grimes and the crew it can’t be good and it seems to launch from the next story arc for the series. While the end of "A Larger World" sets up the tension for the final push to 100, the end feels rushed and just peters out. Don’t get me wrong, issue #96 is a decent read, but it makes the entire "A Larger World" arc feel like nothing more than set up. The Walking Dead has never read like that before, it’s always been very focused on each story, which is why this issue feels a little off.
Rick and his crew have made quite a name for themselves in this new community. Issue 95 ended with Rick killing one of the new members who attacked him. The reaction of the community is one of frozen shock, it seems as if they are unable to react to violence. Sure there are some bad vibes and Rick even gets punched, but there’s no real reaction.
When called to a meeting with the community leader, Rick is informed that the people there are under attack. A group called The Saviors are consistently taking half of everything the community has in exchange for not attacking them. When asked why they don’t fight back, Rick is simply told that’s not how the community works.
Being the ever-present leader, Rick works out a plan where his crew, who are no strangers to violence, will take out The Saviors in exchange for as many supplies as they need and a constant pipeline with the new community. The issue ends with Rick giving a long-winded speech about why he’s the leader and how this new community is the first step to a better tomorrow.
Up until the speech, issue 96 was a well-paced story that built excitement even though it was mainly dialog and exposition. When Rick gives his speech, the story comes to this abrupt and rather preachy end. It completely deflates the whole arc. "A Larger World" deserved one more issue, one where Rick has to convince his people to help the new community. It needed something to give it an ending, not Rick’s speech.
The positive side of issue #96 is that it tones down Rick’s recent foray into being insane. I don’t know if writer Robert Kirkman will bring that back, but for now its nice to see Rick behaving like Rick instead of some rambling nut job. I also enjoyed seeing the group as the alpha dogs for once, instead of just reacting to what happens around them. I’m sure the next four issues of The Walking Dead will be awesome and will lead to a new dawn for the series itself. I have enough faith in Kirkman to be sure of that. However, issues #96 is a casualty of that coming excitement.
And I still hate the art.
(3 Story, 2 Art)