In these issues, Negan continues to stake his claim as a major antagonist to Rick and his crew. Our heroes haven’t faced a person this trouble-making since the Governor, and Negan may end up being worse. For one thing, he seems to actually be less mentally unbalanced than the Governor. Maybe even than Rick, shoes decision-making and general demeanor seem to be deteriorating before our eyes.
Negan shows his tough side (as does Robert Kirkman) in a scene of literally senseless brutality, in which Glenn is killed. It had been nearly four years of publication time since the last major cast death, and this one came out of nowhere – both to readers and to the characters. Reading the series in trades, well after the fact, I knew it was going to happen soon, but it still surprised me that it happened here. And the violence that it happened with is shocking. If we ever forgot that the greatest threat to humans in this zombie-infested world is in fact other humans, we are reminded here.
Carl shows his courage, by stowing away with Negan’s crew, and spend some quality time with the enemy. Here, Kirkman does a good job balancing Carl’s maturity and capability with his youth and inexperience. Despite his being forced “to grow up quickly,” he is nonetheless quite young. And despite the fact that Negan returns Carl to his father safe and sound, Rick’s determination to take him out once and for all grows. We are clearly preparing for war.
The role played by Jesus expanded in these issues, and he takes Rick to meet “King” Ezekiel. Who has a tiger as a pet. An actual tiger. But he might also be an ally in the fight against Negan. As might one of Negan’s chief lieutenants, who also claims to want to see the man dead. But can they trust a man who has done such violence in Negan’s name?
These issues feel more like a suspense story than a horror story, as the dread of what will happen next continually hangs over the characters. Robert Kirman once characterized his goals for The Walking Dead as “what if the zombie movie never ended,” and this volume continues to tell that ongoing story very well.
Source: public library