By Jared Cornelius
Welcome back to Typing on The Dead, Bleeding Cool's recap of the latest issue of The Walking Dead. Things are really starting to go sideways at the Hilltop but last month's issue felt more akin to a primetime drama series than an issue of The Walking Dead. This month we see things are finally moving forward with more machinations from people in the shadows, more about the new antagonists, and we pick up a couple of unresolved threads from a while back. So as always *SPOILER WARNING* for the remainder of the article.
The Walking Dead #136 by Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard
Gregory seeing the startled looks, gets defensive and yells out that things have been going bad for a while and they've been complaining about Maggie for months. One of the fathers tells Gregory that murdering her goes too far. Gregory is happy to poke at their discontent by reminding them that Dante is still lost, and Carl will be sitting down to dinner tonight free, while his boy will always be in danger, punctuating it by telling him, "killing Maggie Greene could save lives". Gregory already has a suitable replacement in mind, himself.
Finally up and stable, Marco is telling Jesus and Maggie about his incident with Ken and the roamers. Marco tells them that he dragged his injured friend as far as he could, but couldn't continue, leaving Ken to die. Maggie tells him that they know about Ken, and she needs him to focus on the roamers. Marco tells her about whispering, but with the heavy down pouring of rain weren't sure what it was at first, but then clearly heard someone talking about losing them before they were actually found. Jesus asks about the details, and Ken tells him that he heard three at most, but when Jesus asks about the roamers, Ken tells him, "There were so many". Jesus and Maggie confer and agree that it's the same group, as they have the same tactics, walk among the dead, and wear the skin suits, but Jesus doesn't think it's the same ones who attacked him. Ken's a little taken back by the suits comment, and Jesus tells Ken something he's been waiting a while to hear.
Back in the brig, Lydia is asking Carl if he actually did something to be put there or if he's there to spy on her. Carl reassures her that he's not a spy and tells her about almost killing the two boys while saving Sophia. Lydia tells Carl she doesn't think that sounds so bad, to which Carl agrees. Lydia asks if Carl beat up the leaders kid, and is shocked to find out that he saved the leaders kid, telling him that it doesn't make sense that he's being punished. Carl now with a bit of perspective tells her that his punishment does make sense that he was out of control and should've known better, punctuating it by telling Lydia they don't kill anymore. Lydia looks confused and asks if they kill people who killed members of their group. Carl tells her no, that they're striving to be better, to show that it's not necessary. Needless to say, Lydia likes what she hears.
Carl asks if Lydia killed some members of the Hilltop, Lydia tells him that she did. She goes on to explain that it was her first time in the field and she didn't know what was happening until the stabbing started. She'd seen her group stabbing so she helped. Lydia said that she didn't regret it, as she's encountered so many bad people that her group's reaction is to kill before they can be killed. Carl sympathizes and tells her he knows how dangerous it is, that people do what they must to survive, but goes on to say that he hopes the whole thing is a misunderstanding. Lydia seems to understand the gravity of the situations and tells him she helped kill his people and she knows she'll have to be punished. Carl tries to comfort her and tells her that she won't be killed and if she cooperates and helps the Hilltop understand her people they might be grateful. Lydia skeptically parrots Carl and tells him she wants to believe but she's scared.
Back at the hospital, a beaten and battered Sophia gets a visit from her mother. Maggie asks her how she feels, Sophia responds, "like hell" but does ask about her attacker's mortality. Maggie tells her they're alive but in the next room, to which we get a surprising reaction out of usually tough Sophia.
Maggie assures her that the boys won't be walking anytime soon and questions Sophia on exactly what happened. The answers to which happen off panel as we see a shot of the boys lying in bed. Maggie comes to their door and calls them a couple of, "fucking monsters" telling them she can't wait until they wake up. In another part of the hospital, Jesus is keeping a close eye on Darius who'd been in surgery for his stab wounds. Alex tells Jesus that Darius looks a lot worse and most of his injuries were superficial. Alex says Jesus that he knows that he blames himself for everything that goes wrong, Jesus cuts him off by asking if he got his letter, Alex replies that he did and proceeds to give Jesus one hell of a kiss.
Jesus surprised by the kiss asks if he actually read the letter. Alex responds that he did and it doesn't mean they can't be friends, but there's a catch, what about Wes? Alex tells Jesus not to get carried away, that they can be, "friends" but he's not looking to screw things up with his current boyfriend.
In the brig, Carl and Lydia are still talking about the bad things she's done. Carl says if she tells the truth that she'll be forgiven and that lying to the people of the Hilltop would be a mistake. Lydia says she's not a liar, Carl smirks and tells her he hopes not. Lydia smiles before Carl continues with the questions. He asks if she's been out in the open since the start. She tells him that she started out in a group of people who merged with other groups who'd survived horrible ordeals, saying that they never stayed in one place too long and movement was their key to survival.
Lydia says that the Hilltop won't last, Carl disagrees, but gets interrupted by Maggie who's come to set him free. Maggie tells Carl that Sophia confirmed his version of events and he's free to go, but he will still be punished for going too far and is likely looking at some sort of counseling. Carl's not done yet as he wants to know why Lydia is locked up. Maggie explains that she can't just walk free, but Carl suggests that she be places into a secure house or at least untied. Maggie reiterates that she's dangerous, but Carl pulls up the point that she's dangerous now, but she could be a productive member of society one day.
On the outskirts of the Hilltop a couple of Whisperers have gathered with the dead in tow. It seems they were following Jesus and had lost him, but continued on in the same direction. One asks what they should do, the other responds that the leader is coming, and Lydia will last.
In yet another scene, Eugene's walking through Alexandria looking listless. Magna comments on Eugene's state, Andrea tells her that he's been that way for a few days and he's been that way since he found out Rosita was pregnant. The two women pontificate on why he'd look so down with the news. Magna having done a complete 180 thinks Eugene is crazy, and that Alexandria is a great place. The two move on, but Andrea drops everything when a certain disabled cop walks down the road. Rick's back and gets a warm welcome on the verge of tackling. He's happy to see Andrea, and is a little melancholy from leaving Carl, but gets a big smile on his face when he sees how well the girls are getting on.
Back at the Hilltop, Carl's arrived for work at Earl Suttons forge, but Earl knows Carl's been through a lot and gives him the day off. Earl tells Carl he'd seen what happened to Sophia and heard the gossip going around telling his apprentice that Maggie will punish him enough, and he's willing to cut him a break. Carl seems taken back that there's gossip about him, but Sutton tells Carl when he sneezes people talk about him. Carl takes a moment and notices the man that threatened him is menacingly staring at him, Earl just tells Carl to ignore him and moves on.
In the brig, Lydia is crying, but is interrupted by Carl. Carl asks if she's ok, she replies that they gave her food, Carl then asks if she was crying. Lydia tells him she was, that she was thinking about her friend Joshua who was killed in the attack. She tells Carl, Josh was always nice to her. Carl replies that he understands and is hoping she gets out soon, but Lydia is still scared about what will happen to her and tells Carl she's never been alone before. She goes on about how her group believed in safety in numbers, and even found comfort in traveling with the dead. She told him the sounds almost became soothing and even though she hated the smell she got used to it, finding it a sign of safety. Carl tells her he thinks he can help with the situation.
Meanwhile at Gregory's home, the father who was staring down Carl has come to pay the former leader a visit. Gregory asks what he wants and in no short answer the nameless dad tells him.
Back at the brig, Carl is regaling Lydia with the story of his disfigurement, telling her about the incident and how he was able to survive. He tells her about his feeling of invincibility sometimes and how he also felt moments of being scared and insecure, Carl says he doesn't believe in magic, but always felt security when he had it with him. What is the "it" he's referring to, our final page shows Lydia wearing Rick's Sheriff hat and telling Carl, "Thank you."
While I'm always satisfied reading The Walking Dead, this was another issue that felt disjointed. Picking right up from last month, I thought Gregory would try and be a bit more sly with his coup, but that didn't come to pass. The former leader and politician almost took offense when he was looked at in shock for subjecting murder. I guess I was giving him too much credit, when Rick and company first made it to the Hilltop Gregory was always a sniveling coward just towing the line to keep himself safe. Even when the attacks on Negen were first brought up, Gregory wanted to be able to deny he had anything to do with it. I'm interested in the murder plot going forward and I'm eager to see how the spineless Gregory plans on getting these two families to do the dirty work for him.
I don't think the families of the injured boys are long for this world either. They've been in a couple issues now and the only named character is the mother Tammy. Characters not being named is a good sign that they're disposable, a minor gripe, but I'm tired of referring to them as "family" or "parent".
The most interesting storyline was the blossoming friendship between Lydia and Carl. If Lydia is only acting as a spy and trying to manipulate Carl, I'd say she's doing a pretty good job of it. I think the truth is she's actually a scared young girl who seems pretty genuine about her situation. The information she told Carl sounds plausible, and she's looked startled when she learned about the Hilltops prisoner policy. I'm really curious about the direction, with two other girls seeking Carl's affections, could it be the kinship he shares with the Whisperer girl that wins out? By far I'd say Lydia's reveal is one of my favorite plot points in the last few issues, being that it opens up a wide range of options for Kirkman's storytelling.
The issue did have some disjointedness and the minor bits with Jesus and Alex didn't do anything for me. We already knew about their relationship, although we didn't know they broke up, but it didn't feel like it belonged in this issue. The same goes for the minor detour we took to Alexandria. Eugene's sad I get that, but it's a pretty big issue with him knowing Rosita cheated on him, I think it deserves to be highlighted, just not this issue. I'd say the other thing I'm disappointed with is Magna's transformation. The once sly leader of her own group has seemingly left her rebellious ways in the past and is fitting in perfectly. Not that she has a reason not to, but the once distrustful stranger has seemingly settled into a routine in the community with no sign of trouble. Knowing that Kirkman likes to pull the rug out from under you, I'd wager that there's more to it, but right now it seems like a lot of setup for nothing.
That's all for this time, remember to check out Sweet Release! every Tuesday night, because what else is going on Tuesday night? While you're at it go check out, Live From The Comic Shop, by our very own Christine Marie! Otherwise see you next time, and remember to stay gold!
Jared Cornelius, is some guy from the Jersey coast who's watching ducks in his periphery. Quack at him on Twitter @John_Laryngitis.