Issue #156, “King and Queen,” feels like the equivalent of a bottle episode on television shows where the main storyline and everything around it is centralized in one location.
Such is the case here, where we spend the entire issue at the Whisperers’ camp. This is good idea, but it presents a slight issue I have that I’ll address towards the end.
For now, though, we’re again seeing just how serious Alpha takes her position and how much of an offense it is to even consider challenging her. We’ve already seen what happens when someone else tries to become the next Alpha, but in the case of Negan, the Whisperers are presented with someone who has intel on Rick and the other survivors.
At the same time, Negan is no pushover and is more than willing to kill, even if he hates Rick as much as he hates the Whisperers. So there’s equal reason to dispose of him, but also keep him around.
We also see Beta’s loyalty tested when he’s in fierce opposition to keeping Negan alive, but relents the moment Alpha dares him to challenge her. What Alpha might lack in being physically imposing, she makes up with intimidation.
And Negan uses this to his advantage to get in Alpha’s good graces and prove himself to her and the other Whisperers. This leads to my slight problem with the issue: seeing Negan live among the Whisperers and prove he has what it takes to be part of their group was interesting to read. It took Negan out of his element, but didn’t change who he was.
He retained his humor, which led to some funny moments in the issue, and proved that, even in a jam, he has what it takes to survive with people that dress like the dead. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but I feel this is something that could have spaced over two issues. We spent issue #155 at the Whisperer camp, Alexandria, the Hilltop, and on the road.
Me personally, I would have wanted to see more of Negan among the Whisperers. Plus, it seems like a quick progression for him to gain the trust of the Whisperers so soon. As far as I can tell, we aren’t given an indication of how much time has passed, so this issue could have taken place over a series of days, but again, this could have been spread over more than one issue.
It also would have allowed us to spend time with and get to know the Whisperers more now that we’re experiencing their world through the eyes of a character we follow, similar to when Negan brought Carl to the Sanctuary.
Also, it could have allowed for us to see Negan grow comfortable around the Whisperers for a longer period and then have him explode when he sees them engage in primitive behavior. As we’ve known for the longest time, Negan hates rape. Murder, kidnapping, theft, all of those things are, to him, done for a greater good, but he abhors rape.
Even if we hate Negan’s guts and can’t get over him killing Glenn, among the many horrible things that he’s done, even Negan has a line. In that moment where he saves that female Whisperer from being raped by the two male Whisperers, you root for Negan because he’s doing what any sane person would do.
While we’ve seen Carl and Rick react to how the Whisperers treat rape, Negan goes a step further and acts on his disgust.
This leads to a great exchange between Negan and Alpha and we learn more about Negan’s philosophy. While the Whisperers may fear challenging Alpha’s authority, Negan has no fear. In spite of what we’ve seen him do, Negan led and protected the Savior. He may be a terrible person, but he does believe that protecting the weak is the basis for any civilization.
But Alpha disagrees, seeing humans as nothing more than primal instincts. And it’s interesting to see Negan justify the horrible things he’s done, saying it’s for a greater good. Like how in Negan’s introduction on The Walking Dead show, he does bad things not purely for the shits and giggles, but for a reason. In the show’s case, it was retribution for Rick and company killing a lot of his followers.
However, as much as Alpha has nothing but contempt, this scene does show how the world has molded her. The same applies to Negan and how his loss right before the outbreak changed him.
Even without being direct, it’s a nice way to link this issue with the events of “Here’s Negan.” For those unfamiliar, “Here’s Negan” is an ongoing prequel story, told a few pages at a time, this fills out Negan’s backstory and explain how he became the character we know him as today.
Good connection and even without this backstory, I like how this moment helps build out his character. And in that moment, he shows Alpha how much he’s willing to devote himself to her, proving that he may belong with the Whisperers after all.
Until he kills her. If Spencer and Brandon are any indication, it’s that you don’t get in close contact with Negan when he’s holding a bladed weapon, but I digress. This is another reason why I wish Negan’s time with the Whisperers had been spread over more issues: Alpha is a fascinating character and I wanted to learn more about her. We’ve seen how exiling Lydia has affected her, but what else has she been feeling?
If anything, it does leave Alpha’s life shrouded in mystery, but it also feels like we’re just dropping her and moving forward with the story. Alpha made a huge impression not just because of the Whisperers killing 12 people from the various communities, but because of her presence. I wanted more of that.
So where does that leave Negan? As is, he could present Alpha’s head to Rick and show that he wants to help. Hell, he could show it to Maggie, too. Or go back to the Saviors? I don’t know. As of now, I think Negan wants to prove to Rick that he’s changed, or that he hates the Whisperers as much as Rick does.
As for the Whisperers, though, will Beta rise up and lead the Whisperers to revolt against the survivors? We’ll find out next time.