As an English major, one of my Lit professors once told us that when reading books for school, ideally we should read them at least twice, because the first time you read a book, you’re reading simply to find out what happens next.  Just for story. As English majors, we were supposed to be reading to appreciate the way in which the story is told and all of the literary devices utilized. Knowing we probably weren’t going to read each book twice, he told us to go ahead and watch the movie version or read the Cliff’s Notes first, then read the book. Therefore, I don’t believe in spoilers. I don’t believe knowing what happens ruins the reading experience.

That said, I can NOT spoil this issue. Normally, our reviews are about 70% recap of the story, 30% opinion. I can’t do that with this issue.

I’ll just give you this.

1.  The infamous Negan finally appears.

2. There are more F-Bombs in this single comic than I have ever read in all of comics, all of my life.

3. Things go very, very, very badly.

In issue #96, Rick and company first encountered a pack of Negan’s men and killed most of them, allowing one to live to deliver their message. In issue #98, they kill even more of his men after they killed Abraham and threaten to kill Eugene. Last issue, I speculated that one of the core cast members might die to shake things up in this special issue or that maybe their safe sanctuary might get decimated.

One of those might have happened. Or maybe not. But what does happen made me very sad. I suspected something like this would occur, but that doesn’t lessen the sting. There’s a repeating pattern in this series. Things get very smooth and comfortable then BAM tragedy.  But each time it seems to get more and more epic in scale. This storyline may, in the long run, actually eclipse The Governor storyline.  Things just got really, really, really bad.

In terms of quality, it’s up there with the best. Kirkman and Adlard deliver as usual, Adlard manning up to depicting one of the most disturbing images yet.  (Sad clown!)  Seriously, I went to my comic shop, got in my car and read this cover to cover. Things take a big turn this issue. God only knows where this book will go from here.

Verdict: Why are you still reading this? Go get this issue already!

Written by Robert Kirkman
Art and Main Cover by Charlie Adlard