“Something to Fear” rolls on and, sure enough, no one is safe. The Walking Dead proves that no character is untouchable (even from the opening few pages of the issue). Beware! SPOILERS are ahead in our review!
The Walking Dead #98
Eugene and Abraham are going to check out a plant where Eugene thinks he can make some ammunition for Rick and the rest of Alexandria to protect themselves. As they discuss each of their feelings for Abraham’s ex-gal, Rosita, Abraham comes to terms with his feelings for the woman he’s cheated on… Just in time to get an arrow through the back of his head. Eugene tries to protect himself, but Negan’s crew is a little too tough for him. They use him as bait and threaten Rick to let them all in so they may take what they want from them. Rick refuses and Alexandria’s defenders begin picking off the marauders one by one until they retreat. Rick and some of the others chase after Negan’s men so they aren’t allowed to regroup and attack again with bigger numbers. They find Abraham’s body being gnawed on by a walker. Andrea and Rick drag Abraham’s body back to Alexandria after a horde of walkers cut off their pursuit of Negan’s men. When asked what will they do about what’s to come, Rick simply states he doesn’t know.
Let’s just go ahead and get this right out in the open… Abraham, Rick’s newest strongman since Tyreese was killed off several issues back by the Governor, is the first of the more major characters to die in this arc. Robert Kirkman doesn’t even wait until a climatic moment to do it! Abraham and Eugene are just walkin’ down the road, minding their own business, heading to a plant to make bullets, talkin’ chicks, then “FWIP!” Abraham gets one to the eye and topples over. Carl gets half his face blasted off and still lives, as a creepy kid no less but still alive, and this big army toughguy gets an arrow through the eye and he’s done.
The moment still elicits a “Oh Shit!” moment, don’t get me wrong, but it happens so quickly in the book and Eugene’s side of the story trying to get away from Negan’s men that we don’t get a moment to stop and grieve for this character. Instead of being able to study the moments that lead up to Abraham’s death, he simply drops and we have to forget about him while Eugene tries to get away from the marauders. In some ways, it’s a little bit of a pisser because we’ve grown to really like Abraham and he’s done so much for the protection of the other characters. In other ways, maybe we’ve grown cold to deaths in this series because we’ve lost so many characters over the years, so while we are all a little surprised that Abraham is the first casualty of Rick’s new way of aggressive leadership, losing him wouldn’t quite be like losing Rick, Andrea, or Glenn who have all been around for more than 90 issues. If we had to guess who was going to die between the handful of characters, we would have to assume it would have been Abraham, or, at least, it would have been him before any of the longer running characters. Abraham’s death is about as big as you can really expect in just this second part of the story.
But in another way, this death, and the subsequent escape Eugene must make, is actually fresh for this series. We’ve seen all sorts of surprising and gruesome deaths through all the years of the series. We’ve seen people decapitated. We’ve seen people chewed up. We’ve seen children kill other children. We’ve seen a woman killed while carrying a baby – which also meant the baby was murdered. This time around, we’re give zero time to stop and think about what happened. It’s almost a surprise that this happens. The deathblow was literally delivered on the third page of the entire comic. It was done on the tenth panel. That means we still had an entire issue to ramp up the suspense and tension instead of having all the issue’s tension and suspense ramping up to a death. Instead of an overly shocking moment toward the end of the book, Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard leaves us with a much more quiet last panel with Rick in dismay. He didn’t have time to make sure he could handle a truly ruthless gang fighting back after he sent his “message” about how things were going to play out from now on. After a long several months since the last true amount of action in the series, this issue balances the thriller elements its always relied on with a fast paced, action-oriented tone that’s throws a wrench into the usual formula of each arc… And it’s definitely a welcome change of pace.
This issue backs up all the solicitations’ warnings that big things were going to happen. Without a doubt, “Something to Fear” is taking down a truly frightening path.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Surprising death happening in a surprising moment in the issue. Great tension, great pacing. Much more quiet cliffhanger that leaves us all wondering what’s coming next.||None. This is one of my favorite issues of this series over these last few years just because it is different than what we normally expect.|