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Celebrating The Walking Dead #100

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It is hard to believe we are finally here; it’s been close to nine years since issue one of The Walking Dead first shuffled onto shelves. Yet here we still are.

Issue #100 came out last week accompanied by no less than eight variant covers, with some of the industry’s biggest talents pitching in. Series architect Robert Kirkman is now head of a global phenomenon that spans: television, books, video games and every other form of entertainment imaginable – all of it operating out of his own Image Comics imprint.

In eight of those nine years we’ve seen a stable three-man creative team produce 28 pages of gorgeous comics every month, with hardly a delay in sight. Nearly every facet of The Walking Dead story is impressive.

Maybe most impressive, however, is that protagonist Rick Grimes is still at the forefront of it all.

In this grim, post-apocalyptic world that Kirkman has championed, Rick has led the small band of survivors through the worst of it all. A treacherous journey across states, run ins with the worst humanity has to offer, and of course, hordes of flesh eating ‘monsters’ - though at this point we have to once again question who the real monsters of this story are.

Rick has done unspeakably evil things, all for the good of his son life, but where do you draw the line? As fans of the television series begin to get introduced to The Governor, it’s interesting to see the parallel between the characters that has emerged.

It wasn’t so long ago that Rick was storming the gates of Woodbury with a righteous mission, but now a few years on, the increasingly unstable and somewhat maniacal Grimes is tearing apart what could be this group’s last chance of ever rebuilding a stable community.  I say ‘not so long ago’, but even that was four years ago. How time flies.

This time the largest threat to these survivors aren’t the living dead, it isn’t the assassins or even the roaming groups of cannibalistic hunters, it’s a lonely and broken man who is having his leadership questioned despite everything he has led them through. What does this sort of man do when backed into a corner?

Issue #100 is sure to be the one that we talk about for years to come. It’s not often that a genuine event rolls around in comics, particularly one that isn’t generated from mountains of press releases and PR hype. There is a very real buzz and excitement in the air, The Walking Dead was the little indie comic that could – and now it stands as a cross media titan, dwarfing nearly everything around it.

If projections are to be believed issue #100 is set to be the biggest selling comic of the year. That’s not something a reboot, a relaunch or any amount of renumbering will ever get you – that sort of buzz is generated through plain-old honest to god storytelling.

Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard have pioneered one hell of a legacy. The Walking Dead is an example of what a little hard work, a commitment to never playing it safe, and the work ethic of a workhorse can get you. 

Image Comic’s manifesto for 2012 has been ‘experience creativity’, and you better believe they are fulfilling that promise. Pack a box of tissues, close the curtains and turn off the internet for the day.

In a world where literally anything can happen and nobody is safe, The Walking Dead #100 was sure to be a shocker – but it was never going to be any other way.

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