Much like the previous issues that we’ve seen since the time-skip, issue #130, “There Were Whispers and I Was Afraid,” re-establishes us to the world, sets up new dilemmas for the characters and has a cliffhanger at the end.
Again, things are slower than before the time-skip, but they need to be in order to re-introduce us to these characters. Now that Negan’s reign has ended, people can slowly settle into their lives, both in Alexandria and, as we see here, the Hilltop.
I didn’t expect the follow-up between Negan and Magna’s crew to pop up right at the beginning of the issue, but it was a welcome surprise and well written. And not too surprising that Negan would revert to his old ways after Magna didn’t buy his story. I’m very curious as to what Kirkman will do with Negan. Having Rick keep him alive, to me at least, makes it seem like there’s still plenty for him to do, despite being imprisoned. He’s too interesting of a villain and proved a formidable foe for the people of Alexandria, so I’m glad he’s at least still interacting with the people, however brief.
And poor Carl. He had such high hopes for wanting to become an apprentice, and in no time at all, the opportunity is taken away from him. Maybe this is from not seizing the opportunity sooner or maybe the job market is still competitive during the zombie apocalypse, but this definitely puts a halt to his plans.
I was very pleased to see how well Maggie has developed into a leader ever since she arrived at the Hilltop. Maggie has been very proactive as a character even before the group arrived at Alexandria, but here, she’s assumed a leadership role and helped turn the Hilltop from a community that lived in fear to one that thrives in rebuilding itself. And unlike the other people at the Hilltop, she’s grateful to Rick for what he’s done, but she feels no need to leap continuous praise on him. She knows him well enough to not do that.
I’m not sure how or why Rick has this sudden hero status in the eyes of the Hilltop citizens. Sure, he helped take down Negan, but it wasn’t just him, so I don’t get why he’s seen as some sort of overnight celebrity. He gave people hope, rallied them together and helped them take down one of their greatest threats yet. But Rick doesn’t do these things because he wants praise or fame- he does it because it’s right and there are few people who had the backbone to face Negan, even when they hadn’t seen him yet.
His conversation with Maggie while watching her child sleep spoke to the normalcy that the characters find odd. What we see as ordinary and normal: watching children sleep or talking about packing for long trips that don’t deal with roamers, these are the simple things that have eluded the characters for so long. It’s eerie for them to slowly settle back into some semblance of a normal life, but it just shows how far removed from their normal world they are and the difficulty in reclaiming that habitual way of life.
Then we have the end reveal that the dead speak: I’m unsure of where to go with this right now. Is this something that developed over time? Are the roamers evolving? Or do they still have some of their humanity just buried underneath all of the death? It’s an interesting thing to think about and while it’s not some huge, mind-blowing game-changer, it is one that has me wondering how this came about.