Zeb Larson reviews The Walking Dead #153…
Heavy hangs the head.
This is one of those scenery issues of The Walking Dead where we’re on the way to a climax, which means that there’s not a whole lot in this issue to really delve into. Rather, there’s some fallout from the previous issue, and a guessing game as to what Negan is going to do next. None of that is inherently bad, but I’m starting to feel like we need a little mix-up in the formula. Warning: I will be discussing spoilers from here on out.
Rick and his people try to figure out where Negan might have gone, guessing that he left with Maggie’s group. The escape and the general fear of the Whisperers is now manifesting in some ugly paranoia at home, especially when members of the community start mistaking each other for enemies. Some people, including members of Magna’s group, want to leave before things fall apart even more. Meanwhile, Brandon and Negan make their way to the Whisperers’ boundary, but before they can cross over together, Negan drives a knife into Brandon’s chest.
The more I read this book, the more I find myself growing tired with the six-issue story arc, or at least the way that it’s often executed in this series. Frequently, the middle issues don’t have a whole lot going on; Kirkman’s pacing is both a good thing and a bad thing. He resists the easy twist and the quick revelation, but that means we’ve got to wait around and play the long game. In any other series, I would compliment this, and indeed, I do believe this is a good thing in the grand scheme of things. But, after 150 issues of this format, it does get to be a little bit predictable.
Here, what was clear last issue is still clear: Negan was never going to just betray Rick to the Whisperers. Negan wants to be the king, or at least be part of the power structure, and he’s not interested in burning it all down just to screw Rick over. That’s why he has to kill the kid. He doesn’t want to take any chances that Brandon might rush things toward a destructive finale, rather than whatever game Negan wants to play. I’m still not convinced that Negan isn’t trying to help Rick out in some way, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Negan uses this to screw Rick over. If Negan can pin some disaster as Rick’s fault while the Whisperers are still looming as a threat, then that would make a hell of a case for his return as a leader.
As for the other stuff that happens, it’s all bits and pieces. Eugene is still talking to the unknown person on the radio, but we don’t really know anything about them yet. Dwight and his men are still training. Michonne and Aaron set off to find Negan, but this receives relatively little attention. That decision might have the most immediate payoff as the two head into a dangerous place, though I’m wondering whether they’ll meet with Negan peacefully rather than throw down with the Whisperers. None of this is bad, and I’m confident that it will all matter eventually, but having played the waiting game many times now, I wish there was a bit more than “what’s Negan going to do next.”
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/197064794″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=fale” width=”100%” height=”150″ iframe=”true” /]