TITLE: The Walking Dead, Vol. 20: All Out War – Part One
AUTHOR: Robert Kirkman
PENCILLER: Charlie Adlard
COLLECTS: The Walking Dead #115-120
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
RELEASE DATE: March 5, 2014
***WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for The Walking Dead, Vol. 20 – All Out War, Part One***
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
More than any collection we’ve seen so far, The Walking Dead, Vol. 20: All Out War – Part One illustrates that the true threat to humanity’s existence is humanity itself. As zombies freely roam the Earth, and threaten to literally eat them alive, our survivors continue to kill one another off. There’s a raw, naked truth to that, which is ultimately one of the keys to this series’ longevity and success.
Fifteen issues after Negan smashed Glenn’s skull in with a baseball bat covered in barb wire (“Lucille,” as he affectionately calls it), the F-bomb dropping leader of the Saviors finally finds himself at war with Rick Grimes and his group of survivors. And to say the least, there will be casualties…
One of the characters readers will close this book thinking about is Holly, who essentially sacrifices her life to save Rick’s. Personally, I can’t say I’ll miss her much. Her main contribution to the book consisted of a love triangle, which also involved Abraham and Rosita. None of that did anything for me, but Kirkman and Adlard do give her a very strong exit. She’s defiant when confronted by Negan, and in the end proved tougher than fans may have given her credit for.
Holly’s predicament also allows Negan to have what is undeniably a character moment at the end of issue #17. When one of his henchmen is about to rape a bound Holly, Negan bursts in and says, among other colorful statements, that after the Saviors win the war they have to be able to work with the people they’re fighting against to rebuild society. He also recites what is apparently one of the cardinal rules of the saviors: “We don’t rape.” The scene ends with Negan assuring Holly that “We aren’t monsters.” Granted, what happens to Holly later in the book would suggest otherwise. While this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Negan demonstrate something resembling compassion, it IS the first time we’ve heard him talk about a plan for the grander scheme of things. We see that he’s not just a big, sadistic, foul-mouthed bully, but a man who, in his own way, wants to rebuild society. Thus, a comparison can be drawn between Negan and Rick.
Interestingly enough, a comparison could have also been drawn between the Governor and Rick. Like the Governor, Rick has a child in his life. But the Governor’s young daughter ultimately became a zombie, whom he nonetheless cared for as if she were alive and well. Considering how we’ve seen Carl’s life endangered in this series, and how Rick’s sanity has at times been put to the test, it’s not far fetched to imagine Rick becoming twisted and sadistic like the Governor if something were to happen to his son. Similarly, were Rick not the compassionate leader that he is, he could have easily become a bizarre brute like Negan. It’s a similar dynamic to the one comic book writers discuss in relation to Batman’s rogues gallery. To an extent, many of them are a reflection of what Bruce Wayne could have been, had he taken a different path.
Sadly, Holly isn’t the book’s only casualty. Shiva, Ezekiel’s loyal tiger companion, goes out defending him from a zombie attack. As one might expect, it’s a touching moment, which strikes Ezekiel at his core. As such, his relationship with Michonne takes a turn, resulting in a pretty powerful exchange where she attempts to give him a wake up call. It’ll be interesting to see where his character goes now that his “gimmick” is gone. As for Shiva herself, readers should likely be thankful she didn’t hang around too long. When you do something outrageous, like give a character a pet tiger, the last thing you want is for the novelty to wear off. And the way Shiva went out, combined with what we learned about her shared backstory with Ezekiel in the previous book, made it a really impactful exit. Charlie Adlard deserves extra praise for his renderings of the tiger. It’s not like we’ve seen an abundance of animals in The Walking Dead, so it’s cool to see him flex some different muscles in that respect.
As ever, I’m curious to see what happens to Negan as the series progresses, and whether he’ll meet the same fate as the Governor once All Out War comes to an end. But for now, The Walking Dead is at a fever pitch thanks to Kirman’s use of that character to shake things up. And in all likelihood, as far as character deaths in All Out War are concerned, Holly and Shiva are just the tip of the iceberg.
Front page image from craveonline.com. Image 1 from author’s collection. Image 2 from thewalkingdeadwiki.com.
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