Issue #154, “Led to Slaughter,” was a fun read that, like #153, had a lot going on, but Kirkman did a great job at balancing all of the separate storylines.
While it followed up on Negan entering Whisperer territory, it gave some character development moments for Carl, Andrea, and Maggie, but also put Michonne and Aaron in a difficult position as they continue their pursuit of Negan.
But let’s go one at a time: Andrea and Maggie’s conversation. It was nice just to have them catch up and talk about how things have been going on their lives. I found it noteworthy for Maggie to talk about how far they as a group have come. Keep in mind that, as Andrea pointed out, probably less than half of them have actually survived this long. No mention of beloved ones like Dale or Glenn, but the message is still clear.
Sure, it’s important to acknowledge that they’ve survived this long in an increasingly ugly world that’s trying to rebuild itself, but I’m glad Andrea points out that there have been losses on their side. And she’s not an asshole when she talks about less than half making it. Great little conversation between these two.
We get a snippet with Michonne and Aaron finding Brandon’s body, but neither one of them puts him down. You don’t just have that without there being any sort of payoff, even though they agree to do it later. After all, why not just do it now? It’d take no time at all. So I would wager that we’ll see a reanimated Brandon down the road.
Then we get Negan in Whisperer territory and his dialogue crackles from start to finish. The man has no virtual fear and I’m still curious what he wants. Is he indeed going to join the Whisperers just for shits and giggles? I mean, there’s no reason for him right now to go to the Sanctuary or Hilltop, if not just to throw a wrench in people’s plans.
Even though he’s outnumbered and, to my knowledge, hasn’t faced the Whisperers before, he’s cracking jokes and talking shit to this new character, Beta. Saying this and watching the Negan we got on the television show aren’t enough, though. I’d suggest picking this issue up and seeing Negan at his finest.
Eugene and the mystery woman, who we can now call Stephanie, was important for a few reasons: one, the communication between the two has opened up a bit to the point that Stephanie finally tells us her name. Second, we learn that she’s not trying to be judgmental of people doing weird things like wearing roamer skins to survive. It’s like the people who cover themselves in roamer guts in order to mask their scents.
But Eugene has a personal stake in this due to the death of Rosita and her baby, and I like how this personal impact is what gets Stephanie to open up to him a bit more. I get that Stephanie, like Eugene, is wary, but strange that it took mentioning a girlfriend’s death to convince her to finally say her name.
There’s a little bit with Carl telling Maggie that he’s decided to stay at the Hilltop, and to be honest, it’s to be expected and it feels earned. We’ve been building up to this since Rick and Carl went to the Hilltop and Carl decided that he wanted to become an apprentice. He’s not a kid anymore and now has a budding relationship with Lydia, so this is his home now.
Back in Alexandria, you gotta give it to Andrea for cutting through the bullshit and recognizing the problems that come with the Whisperer propaganda. But once she sees an injured Rick, all that anger dissipates. However, Andrea’s anger has already been proven to be warranted, based on Paul shooting Marco because he didn’t recognize him.
There’s this running theme in The Walking Dead, comic and television show, where if we spend a significant amount of time with a character and they start reflecting, it’s a red flag that they may meet their end soon. This isn’t always the case, but Aaron getting stabbed after he talks with Michonne about relationship woes makes me wonder about his fate.
But Michonne and Aaron kind of dropped the ball by thinking the Whisperers would be diplomatic. The border has been established, so of course the Whisperers are going to attack any invaders. Granted, Aaron and Michonne might not have known if the Whisperers would attack, but given their previous actions, they should have cut the talk short. Plus, it was a quick stab from Beta, though, so maybe Aaron’s not a goner yet.
And then we got the ending. Man, Negan and Alpha would make for one fucking hell of a fascinating power couple, but it depends, again, on what Negan wants, and how Alpha will respond to him. Is Negan just going to give away all the information he has about the other communities? Is he actually interested in a relationship with Alpha?
Plus, either way, would Alpha even give a damn? The Whisperers have already killed people from the other communities and it’s easy for Whisperers to hide among the people when they’re not wearing walker skins, so what would she have to gain from Negan telling her what she might already know? Either way, it opens the door for great, entertaining possibilities and I cannot wait to see what Kirkman has planned for Alpha and Negan.