Saturday, 1 October 2016

The Walking Dead, Volume 26: Call To Arms Review (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard)

In The Walking Dead, Volume 26: This Will Never End Call To Arms, Robert Kirkman does the inevitable on a couple of long-standing obvious plot-points! Eugene makes contact with a new group via his ham radio, Rick grows more as a leader and the settlements are preparing for war against the Whisperers. But the major development is Negan finally getting free and making his way to the Whisperer’s camp…

I say obvious because Kirkman’s not the most subtle storyteller and has a habit of telegraphing future storylines well ahead of time. Negan in a cage? Yeah that was gonna last… Also, while those final few pages are still shocking, it’s not surprising to see that Negan is now more than just a one-dimensional villain who wants to kill Rick. 

It wouldn’t be interesting after all this time to have Negan regress to the person he was before so to see nuance added to his worldview is kinda predictable. But that’s the only predictable part of his character because while he’s still dangerous and evil he also now weirdly likes/respects Rick despite being his prisoner for years (in the story’s chronology), and his larger plan remains inscrutable. Negan’s basically become Joker to Rick’s Batman! 

Kirkman also occasionally throws in a clanger of a scene to really lay it thickly on the reader the importance of something everyone’s already aware of. Here it’s the full page of Dwight turning to the reader to grimly announce, after encroaching on Whisperer turf and shooting a bunch of them dead, “This was an act of war” – well, duh!

Call To Arms is a table-setting book with lots of pieces being moved into position and not a whole lot else happening. As a result it’s a so-so read with Negan waking the reader up whenever he’s around like the great villain he is. Kirkman’s mostly on autopilot but at least he’s steering the series into a compelling direction so the next book will probably be awesome like it is whenever the story becomes balls-to-the-wall Rick’s Group vs New Adversarial Group.

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