Issue #153, “Heavy Hangs the Head,” has a lot going on with multiple storylines and characters.
This had the potential to be a cluttered mess, but no. And rather than spending too much time with the various plots, Kirkman gives us just enough to understand where the characters are headed. With Negan now free and the war with the Whisperers still ongoing, tensions are high.
But before getting to those storylines, let’s talk about Magna and her group. We came into this time skip and new world with them and watched them become integrated into the community. Despite their suspicion of Rick and Andrea, they’ve become working members and have stayed on, despite losing Luke to the Whisperers. Having said that, we haven’t learned much about or spent a lot of time with them.
Kirkman does have the characters appear and gives them dialogue, which I like, but I would just like to have more active roles. That or spend more time with the group so we can find out what life was like for them before arriving at the Safe Zone.
For now, though, I’m glad that Magna accepts her role and is at least grateful for Rick welcoming her into Alexandria. And I like how she and Yumiko are quick to shut down Connie and Kelly’s dissention and suspicion of Rick. This group has lost one of their own to the Whisperers. It would be easy to walk away after that, but they have a huge opportunity at survival, so no way will Magna squander that chance.
But now I’m worried that Connie and Kelly may do something that could fuck things up for them. You don’t just plant that seed and not have a payoff down the line.
Briefly on Eugene. His radio conversations are going to have a big impact, I’m guessing, if just by Eugene giving information about himself, while his companion remains in the dark about their position since the outbreak, which is apparently just one place. This person says that they find people who traveled long distances to be somewhat damaged, which I find interesting. It doesn’t reveal a lot, but something to think about for later.
I’m also enjoying how Kirkman is developing Dwight into a strong, competent leader. It would be easy to have him stick with wanting out, but now that he’s in, he’s proving to be of great value through his leadership. And his talk with Laura about Lucille was very strong. Lucille is mostly associated with Negan and being a weapon of destruction. For me, it’s hard to look at her and not think about Negan bashing in Glenn’s skull.
Rather than just become Negan the Second, Dwight, despite not wanting to be a leader, is coming into his own brand of leadership. It’s doing well not just for him, but for the army he’s training. There’s also something to be said about Dwight holding onto Lucille not just as a weapon, but to keep it away from Saviors who want to wield it and try to take over the Sanctuary. He wants to have Lucille stand for something else. Will he? Let’s hope so.
Meanwhile, on top of finding Negan, Rick has to contend with the effects of taking Negan’s advice. He spurred the communities to action so they would want to destroy the Whisperers. Negan advised Rick to make the people safe and they’d stop complaining. To his credit, that’s worked. But the problem is that it’s putting people like Paul on edge to the point where they might snap and attack without caution.
And when Rick talks to Paul about him shooting Marco, you can see on his face the realization that he might be responsible for inciting violence. That was never his intention, as he just wanted to make people feel secure and get them off his back. But with his pledge to wipe the Whisperers off the face of the Earth, Rick has issued a call to arms and the signs everywhere serve as a reminder. He’s made them safer, but also quick to act without thinking.
So while there was a benefit to Negan’s advice, it may still end up biting Rick in the ass.
That finally brings us to Negan. From the moment he put on that familiar jacket, I smiled. Negan is back. I mean, he never went anywhere since he’s as foul mouthed as he’s ever been, but it’s good to see him back in his proper outfit and outside the walls. And side-note, what will Maggie think if she realizes that Negan wasn’t too far from her?
And as always, Negan has such a way with words. He’s so irritated by Brandon and doesn’t hesitate to let him know that he’ll kill him, but then he has that Negan charm where he pretends to be sympathetic to Brandon’s feelings. That line Negan has about being so fucking insensitive, especially if he doesn’t like you, shows that he’s as much of a motherfucker as he’s always been.
And then he kills Brandon. If Spencer’s death was any indication, this was expected, but I’m curious what Negan will do. Aaron and Michonne are on his trail, but he’s headed to the Whisperers camp. I don’t think he’d turn on Rick. Hell, maybe he’ll end up helping Aaron and Michonne.
Regardless, “Heavy Hangs the Head” was a good read that put Negan outside Alexandria again and showed that he hasn’t lost his killing edge. It built on the dynamic between Magna’s group, showed the negative impact of Rick’s actions, and could be building towards a confrontation between Negan and the Whisperers. Bring it on.