A Look at The Walking Dead #172: “Hilltop Reborn”

The communities are rebuilding and becoming stronger than ever.  Seems like everything is going well right now…except maybe for Jesus.

So having been introduced to the Princess of Pittsburgh in a very self-contained issue, the next chapter: “Hilltop Reborn,” picks up the pace by giving us a look at multiple communities in their efforts to rebuild.  It’s a good read that advances many storylines, in particular allowing Carl and Sophia a chance to talk for once, and gives us a great cliffhanger at the end.

I understand Michonne in particular not being trusting of Juanita and she has every reason to be concerned.  However, just like when Jesus was first introduced, Juanita does prove her worth to the group by helping eliminate roamers.  She’s not being antagonizing for conflict’s sake and her introduction established her as a talker, so at least she’s a change of pace for the team.

And as serious as things have been, especially after Siddiq’s revelation to Eugene, a bit of humor helps lighten the mood since Juanita keeps everyone on their toes.  And, like everyone else, she doesn’t care about Yumiko’s admission to the group about her relationship with Magna.  Or rather, the announcement isn’t as big a deal as Yumiko imagined it would be.

Let’s talk about these two for a moment.  I want Magna and Yumiko to have more to contribute to the group or something that will flesh out their characters.  As is, they’re still the newcomers, but haven’t had much to do outside of just assimilate into the larger family.  But we haven’t learned much about them.  We get shades of that here, but I’d like for them to be defined by more than just their sexuality.

Over in Alexandria, Rick has his mind in different places as he’s still leading the community, helping Mikey toil the earth, getting ready for Aaron and Jesus to depart, and on top of everything else, still grieving the loss of Andrea.  However, I like that Rick is still keeping himself busy.  I don’t want him to just get over Andrea’s death, even if a period of time has passed, so it’s nice that we’re still seeing him grieve.

For someone who has had as big an impact on Rick’s life as Andrea, to just have him get over her death would rob us of seeing the emotional pain he’s experiencing.  For him to still talk to her grave and even sleep on it shows that he’s still hurting a lot. What’s more is that, even though others have seen him at the grave, they’re not questioning him on it.  Rather, they’re giving him space to grieve, which is nice.

Over at the Hilltop, Carl is continuing to settle in well and help rebuild not just the community, but also his bond with Lydia.  Even though Carl has accepted Lydia despite her time with the Whisperers, she hasn’t felt like she belonged.  And it makes sense.  If she only has people like Carl and Maggie in her corner, that’s not a lot of support.  But she no longer feels undeserving of support.

While I can’t gauge how other people may take to Lydia, my hope is that, as time passes, she fully integrates into this family as a whole instead of feeling like she has to tiptoe over anything she says or does.

Then you have Sophia, who has been there from the start and to be fair, she and Carl haven’t spent that much time together since Lydia entered the picture.  Granted, the two have been in different communities for the longest time until Carl decided to make the Hilltop his home, but even then, they haven’t bonded or even talked as much as they did in the past.

Yes, so much shit has been happening that’s kept them from having a chat, but it makes sense that Sophia would feel left out of Carl’s life, more so now that he’s involved with Lydia.  Sophia has a real point and her intentions come off as genuine and honest. She’s not coming from a vindictive or hurtful place- she just wants to spend more time with her friend.  Not a difficult request and it’s nice that the two come to an accord.

The two also get in a quick word about Maggie, who is staying wide awake and unable to focus on all the reconstruction because her mind is still trained on Negan.  Dante is back at the Hilltop, so I assume that, for the moment, he’s not keeping watch of Negan? Or perhaps he’s taking a break to help out with the Hilltop reconstruction.  Either way, Negan still being out there is at the front of Maggie’s mind.

Side-note, I’m enjoying just how much William has devoted himself to making sure the Kingdom contributes to getting the Hilltop back on its feet.  I could see William becoming a closer ally to Maggie as the story progresses.

So all in all, this was a good read with equal parts story progression, character development, and light-hearted scenes.  Plus, Jesus and Aaron are headed to the Hilltop, so Maggie will have two more pairs of hands helping her rebuild that community.

Oh, wait.  Gotta say, I was not expecting Beta to pop up at the very end.  We all knew he was coming because, like the Saviors, just because the Whisperers haven’t shown up for a few issues doesn’t mean that they just went away.  And we know that Beta has been waiting for his moment to strike back at the communities, so here’s a prime opportunity to do so, starting with Jesus.

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