Warning: Spoilers Dead Ahead!
The pace has been fast and unrelenting, but Robert Kirkman's twelve chapter tale, "All Out War," has wrapped up and it may leave some readers scratching their heads.
With all great stories, there comes a time when the characters we know and love, evolve beyond the meager confines they began with. They stretch and grow and become multifaceted, pushing readers to evolve with them and to see if the reader's empathy can withstand the change.
Without a doubt, there will be fans debating the final outcome of Kirkman's tale with a multitude of pros and cons. This issue was brutal for some of the characters - poor Rick - and life changing for others - poor Negan - but all in all, it wrapped up a fantastic tale in a way that fans won't see coming. I for one, think that it was a great move not to have the finale wrap up with a slaughter of poignant characters just to bring a moment of shock and awe. Some may complain that the ends didn't justify the means, and they may be right to a point, but the end Kirkman gave makes way for so much more.
After last issues shocking conclusion, Rick stabbing Negan in the neck, fans were pouncing on the chance to see either Rick or Negan, or both, die in this issue. Sadly, none of that occurs, but with the lack of death comes an even bigger story that will broaden the world of The Walking Dead far beyond mere slaughter. Kirkman gives Rick a chance to become a true leader of a people far greater than he has ever known before. He takes Rick out of the confines of just a guy trying to hack his way through the world and sets him up to become a patriarch of a new world -- a better world, where the concept of "us" versus "them" can be boiled down to the lowest denominator of "living" versus "dead."
Kirkman has laid out a grander scheme for things to come; one still filled with action and intensity, but also with a broader purpose than "just getting by." It is a new era for Kirkman and his band of misfit survivors, one that will have fans crying foul for not killing Negan, but also will have them chomping at the bit to see what comes next!