The Walking Dead: Processing the Aftermath of Negan’s Vampire Bat

Negan Walking Dead Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Copyright: AMC Networks

The season premiere of The Walking Dead Season Seven has come and gone. After a long Spring and Summer, we finally know who felt the wrath of Negan’s Barbed Wire Bat Lucille. Fitting though that it was called Negan’s Vampire Bat in the premiere, hence the title of this article. I wrote an article back when The Walking Dead had that brutal cliffhanger and this is my follow-up to it. As reactions to the cliffhanger ending were divisive, the aftermath of the premiere is going the same way. Instead of a generic recap of the episode, let’s process the season premiere together. I need to process the season premiere as much as you all do. On with the show as we all process the aftermath of The Walking Dead season premiere. That Vampire Bat did a number on us all.

Yes if you haven’t seen the Season Premiere of The Walking Dead, there are spoilers. So many spoilers.

If you didn’t see the big bold letters, yes I am spoiling things so if you haven’t turned away now, it’s your own fault at this point. So are we good? Okay cool.

To reveal who died right off the bat, Abraham and Glenn were the casualties. Abraham was someone loosely expected to die in many online articles and Glenn we were prepared for. Glenn died in the comics under Negan’s hand and it was even more brutal than the comics. Now the way both deaths were handled, that’s where things get weird. For one they didn’t reveal the deaths of Abraham and Glenn right away. To see the deaths you were already expecting to happen, you sat through two commercial breaks. I’m okay with set up but I got to the point where I was saying, “C’mon, get on with it already!” before the deaths were revealed. Both deaths were done well, brutal, but done well. Seeing it in a comic is one thing but on a TV show, that’s a whole new dimension. That was some tough television to watch.

That Walking Dead Episode was tough to watch at points, seriously.

As TV was The Walking Dead season premiere bad? It wasn’t bad TV in my opinion because of the fact that the entire time I was engaged, especially after the reveal. Once I knew who died I was invested in the story more. A lot of the episode was driven by Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, he had to do the heavy lifting. Most everyone else was reacting to him and it worked. Jeffrey Dean Morgan has always been a good actor but he took it to the next level as Negan. Everyone else in the show did a great job in reacting to the dark powerhouse that is Negan. This was pure setup for the season to come and it set up a lot of questions which is a good thing.

I’m optimistic about the season to come for The Walking Dead but they better not pull a stunt like that cliffhanger again. I completely understand why they did the cliffhanger but they should have done that ending at the end of the Season Six finale. One reason being that Negan is such a big deal villain that to set up such a cliffhanger like that was unnecessary.  The show was already renewed and even now it is renewed for Season Eight. Walking Dead doesn’t need stunts at this point, tell your stories, make them good and make them count. The Walking Dead gets fans talking and that’s good but shock value can only go so much further with this series.

Don’t Focus on Shock Value and Make Great TV, That’s all you need.

This was a good start to the season for all intents and purposes. No matter what, the ratings are going to be huge and people are going to watch. Even if The Walking Dead loses viewers, it will take a long time for the show to take any kind of hit from it. Negan set the series off into a daring and dark new direction with two characters already down for the count. Time to see if the rest of Season Seven lives up to the promise of the powerful and unforgettable season premiere.

 

 

Wes Reads Spawn #258-260: Wow Spawn is Off the Rails in a Good Way

Spawn #258 Cover

Spawn and myself have never quite connected over the years. Oh sure I liked the toys at one point, designs of the characters, even saw the movie, never could quite connect with the character. I’d seen snippets of Spawn over the years yet I wasn’t compelled to buy the series. Then I heard that Erik Larsen most notably of Savage Dragon fame was going to be working on the series with Spawn creator Todd McFarlane. From what I know Spawn has changed hosts from Al Simmons at one point but now he is back. That’s what I know and I was curious how Todd McFarlane and Erik Larsen were going to get new readers in. This is a classic situation of you barely need to know a thing. Al Simmons is Spawn, he’s going to Hell to save his wife from Satan, and that’s all you need. Larsen going off the rails with demon designs in Hell and Todd McFarlane and Erik Larsen getting to, in a sense, reestablish the character of Spawn. These three issues cover Spawn entering Hell and the first two parts of the Satan Saga Wars. It is weird to be someone who has no connection to Spawn reading this. Yet here I am reading Spawn for the first time and focusing on the character, story line, and the world that he inhabits. You’re curious to hear what I think and I’m curious to start my adventure into to Hell. Read on as you see my perspective into Spawn #258-260!

What struck me here was the fact that #258 has only minimal writing in it. You get the intro and the ending with updates in between. Now you’re wondering why there would be updates. The entire issue is a massive fight scene of Al Simmons as Spawn fighting off the hordes of Hell. Hey if you’re going to have Erik Larsen start on a comic why not let him cut loose with demons right? The entire issue feels like two old friends getting together and having a blast with tons of action. We’re talking double page spreads, splash pages, and lots of great panel to panel storytelling. There’s a craft to the silent story and when done right it can be awesome. The double page spreads in the issue are gorgeous and your eyes will be staring in awe of all the little details and craziness within. #258 is an example of a mostly wordless story done right. McFarlane and Larsen using the beginning and end of the issue to set up the Satan Saga Wars. It was effective and a lot of fun. Not the easiest way to introduce a comic to a potential new reader but at the same time it gives so much action and excitement that it could get someone wanting more. It’s interesting to see a silent story being a lead in for a major arc and the start of a new artist on a book. Yet it worked, so bravo on that front.

Spawn #258 Double Page Spread

Now for #259 and #260, now we are in the Satan Saga Wars proper. Now this is where the McFarlane and Larsen run starts to kick in. McFarlane throughout the two parts fills you in on everything you need to know about Al Simmons, his death, his time as Spawn, and his relationship with his wife. It feels organic as you read forward in the two parts. You have Satan angry about Spawn in Hell and continuing to throw everything and the kitchen sink to go after him. The best part about this is there is an excellent sense of pacing. It’s a fast paced action adventure movie set in Hell with endless amounts of dark imagination. Remember when I said that this is reestablishing the character of Spawn? This is exactly what McFarlane and Larsen are doing here. I don’t know what happened to the power meter that used to be there, not a big deal though at all. It’s even cooler to see that McFarlane and Larsen encouraged you to check out the older issues if you wanted details on what happened that got us to the point too. Nicely done. If I was reviewing this issue to issue it would be tough as nails, yet the way I’m getting to read it works for me. In reading the first two parts in a row, I like where this is going and McFarlane and Larsen are cutting loose as a team.

I talked a lot about Larsen’s art in the #258 part of this but #259 and #260 are more of the same. It’s a lot of great background work, cool demon designs, and McFarlane is inking over Larsen’s art giving it a slick look and working well with Larsen’s pencils. I do have an appreciation for Larsen’s work from Savage Dragon but his Spawn stuff with this inking is an entirely new experience and I like it. Still Larsen but with a new feel. It doesn’t hurt that the coloring on this is also strong throughout, bright reds, fire, and fury, and FCO Plascenscia knocks it out of the park throughout all the issues. I’m impressed by what I see here, every single page from writing and art begs to be looked at in detail, nothing is skimped here. The writing is exciting and the art matches this renewed level of excitement. Just rocking comic book energy and I can’t help but dig it.

Spawn #260 Double Page Spread

That’s me reading Spawn #258-260 and you know, I want to read more. Never thought in a million years I would want to be a regular Spawn reader but here we are. I’m interested and want to see where Todd McFarlane and Erik Larsen take Spawn from here. Heck I even want to give Savage Dragon another go. For me these three issues of Spawn gave me a ton of entertainment and good times, and Spawn worked on that level for me. If you are curious for yourselves, try out Spawn #258-260 for yourself and see what you think. McFarlane and Larsen are having a blast on this comic and it shows. I can’t wait to see what the next two parts of the Satan Saga Wars hold. Two old friends coming together to make a comic the best it can be, I like that.

You can find Spawn #258-260 at your local comic store or at Comixology for #258, #259, and #260 if you don’t have a local store near you.