By Jared Cornelius
Welcome back to Typing on The Dead: Bleeding Cool's Walking Dead recap column. In the aftermath of All Out War, we seem to have an All New The Walking Dead on our hands as things have changed quite a bit for Rick and the gang. So as always *SPOILER WARNING* for the rest of the article.
The Walking Dead #127 By Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard
We start this issue with unfamiliar faces, a woman named Magna sits down while a man behind her asks "How much longer?"
The two are discussing their movements and are clearly out in the wild. The two aren't quite sure where they're going and think they hear the ocean. To no one's delight it's a roamer. A young woman named Yumiko takes aim with a bow and arrow but they are soon under siege from a horde of the dead. The group takes cover on top of their horse drawn trailer and try and get a handle on how many dead they're up against. The dead go straight for the group's horses and scene pans out to reveal a huge herd of roamers. The herd is able to push over the trailer with their immense numbers, sending Magna and her group to the ground.
The group has obviously been surviving for quite some time as they have a game plan, but when Magna gets grabbed by a roamer it might be all over. That is until a very Bushido Jesus saves the day.
Jesus gets the group on their feet and has them go for the horses. While trying to escape, a man in the group named Bernie gets swarmed. Jesus tells the group to run for the tree line while we take care of it. Magna proceeds to ask, "Who's we?"
Jesus meets up with Heath, who's looking much better since the last time.
Jesus and Heath are discussing strategy on how to move the herd. It was almost like they were being moved in a coordinated fashion.
The scene moves to Eugene and Rosita who confirm that the group is indeed having a zombie-style cattle drive. Eugene says that he's done the calculations on when and how to move them and as long as Aaron is in position things will be fine. Aaron then releases several blasts from a horn attracting the attention of the surrounding zombie herd.
The group continues with the zombie cattle as Magna and her group look a little stunned and shaken from the woods. Another male member of the group is none too pleased that Bernie got killed, but Magna reminds him they're all on borrowed time and that if Jesus and his group were able to devise a way to drive zombies like cattle, they have a place worth protecting.
The group momentarily debates following them, but Jesus sneaks up and tells them there's no need to. Jesus gives Magna and her group a little information on the community they come from and tells them they are welcome to come check it out. Oh course the conditional surrender of all weapons is customary, which the new group is not pleased about doing. Magna wants to know more about the community but Jesus is guarded, knowing that knowledge is leverage and tells them they can work something out. Jesus then meets with Eugene, who's confident they've driven the herd away from the Kingdom. Eugene asks Jesus if he's looking forward to talking to Rick about the new group, Jesus lets us know that Rick hasn't turned away anyone yet. It's a nice clear sign that maybe we've moved a bit forward.
We move on to a quite morning with Andrea and Rick in bed. We see Rick get up first and having to grab for a cane, he makes his way to the bathroom where he starts slipping a harness around his arm. Could it be? Well it's not the Army of Darkness style metal hand I predicted but it'll do.
Andrea wakes up and asks Rick about his plans. Rick runs down the details of the day, including a meeting with Eugene, and an agriculture report. Rick also mentions having a, "Talk" with Carl, the two go silent for a minute and Andrea asks Rick what he plans. Rick tells her he's unsure and makes his way downstairs where we see a shocking sight.
Carl has transformed into a teenager, and asks his dad to "Talk". Rick tells Carl he has to be at a meeting and they will discuss the matter later today. Carl lets him know he really wants to talk to Rick about whatever it is and tells him it's important. In a really small quiet moment Carl refers to Andrea as "mom", as Rick exits the house. As the door swings open, we see Rick's new world.
Rick strolls down the street, saying hello to familiar friendly faces and makes his way to what I'll assume is the dinning/meeting hall. He meets with Paula, who we learn is in charge of the agriculture. We then meet up with Andrea who's speaking with another new face, Siddiq, who's working on construction. We also learn that Rosita and the riders are apparently the best in town at construction and without their help construction has fallen behind. We learn that things are so good, the community is having a fair in two months. No sooner do Siddiq and Andrea finish talking when Rosita shows up none too happy that the workers have fallen behind. Andrea tells her to take a break, but Rosita declines and opts to jump right into work. In another moment of foreshadowing, Andrea asks Rosita if she's talked with Eugene. Rosita says no, and Andrea tells her to talk before, "It's too late".
We circle back to Rick who's doing his best political approval/tourism add. Magna seems overwhelmed by the whole ordeal. We then get a rundown of the new group including Kelly, Luke, Connie, and Yumiko, who won't kick you in the balls if you ask her, but does know kung-fu. Rick asks if Magna is the leader, but Magna seems reluctant to accept the title.
Luke tells Rick with certainty that Magna is the leader.
Rick lets Magna in on the fact that he never felt comfortable with the title either, and tells the group how it's going to be. Of course the issue of trust is brought up, and while Jesus has cleared them, Rick makes it clear you can't be too careful. The group agrees to stay and Rick sets up interviews as well as open beds for them. Rick then gets on with his day and has his meeting with Eugene. A very svelte looking Eugene starts telling Rick about the zombie drive.
Rick lets Eugene know this is his last time out as he's become an integral part of the community and too valuable to lose.
We find out that Eugene has also helped make a mill and that he seems a bit self-deprecating about his accomplishments. Rick gives him a pep talk and continues to let Eugene know how important his contributions are to Alexandria. Rick tells Eugene he needs to get home and Carl is there waiting for him. It has arrived–the dreaded talk–and the two look very serious. The first thing we find out is Rick thinks Carl is too young and we're left hanging for a moment and we come to find what Carl is too young for.
Carl wants to apprentice for Earl Sutton, the blacksmith, but Rick wants Carl to make bullets with Eugene. Rick tells Carl that the Hilltop is too far from Alexandria and it makes him feel safer being close. Carl reminds his dad that he's not a child anymore and he's proven himself over and over. Rick tells him he'll think about it, which Carl seems satisfied with. Rick and Andrea then share a quiet moment in the bedroom talking over what to do about Carl. Rick, still very reluctant to let his son go, confides in Andrea that Carl is growing up and it would be a valuable trade for him. Andrea agrees that Carl's growing up and says, "He's not your little boy anymore". Rick replies "our boy" which Andrea smiles and repeats.
After the tender moment between the two, Carl is seen sneaking away with and talking with someone about things a teenage boy would talk about.
It's not a one-sided conversation since someone is talking back. In fact, they start speaking about the blacksmithing talk Carl had with Rick. The voice tells Carl that Rick agreeing to think about it was the best he could hope for, and that he appreciates the talks.
The voice tells him that it helps mark the time and proceeds to ask Carl one more question.
Carl's secret buddy is none other than a shaggy Negan. Carl responds with, "Yes, Negan. You know I do."
Wow what a dramatic change from All Out War. I'd say judging from the progress Alexandria has made, along with Carl's growth spurt it's been a couple years at least. Seeing how old Maggie's baby is would be a great indicator of the time that's gone by. This double sized issue felt like it had a lot in it. From the first group of survivors to Rick's quiet stroll through Alexandria, it gave a bit of a well-earned break to series regulars but still had some peril. I like the fact that Carl has aged a bit, since it gives Rick something new to deal with, with the once quiet little boy a one-eyed teenage ball of hormones. I do wonder if it's in part to make him a bit more like TV Carl, though. The revelation that Negan was still being jailed wasn't shocking, but I did like the idea that Negan was playing the role of cool uncle to Carl. What better way at getting back at Rick then turning his son against him? I think it's a smart way to continue with Negan's character.
I was happy to see Eugene taking up more of a leadership role. The once squirming liar has had a great character arc and become one of the most important people to the community. I'm very curious to see what's going on between him and Rosita. The new group is also intriguing too as Magna seems very much like a female Rick. Will the two hit it off, especially considering how close Rick is to Andrea now? Or will Magna and her group plan a coup? Are they working for another group, or are they just scrappy survivors?
Rick's community has flourished and I can only imagine the Hilltop and the Kingdom have done so as well. I think it was very telling we didn't see Michonn. I'm positive she's at the Kingdom ruling as Queen. I'm calling it now too: she will have a daughter with Ezekiel and she will be named Shiva. I really like what Kirkman did with moving the story forward so far. It gives everyone a breather, the communities have all had time to rebuild, and the characters have a hopeful and fresh outlook on life. The Walking Dead has never been a book about happiness, it's been about survival and hardship, and I always fall back on the philosophy that the better things get for them, the more they have to lose.
That's it for this month, you can check out my other regular column, Live(ish) From The Games Shop, where I look at the weeks new releases. I've also been doing a series called Valiant Effort, about the Valiant branded comic books. You can find out about some of the other pieces I do during the week by following me @John_Laryngitis on Twitter.
Jared Cornelius is some guy from New Jersey's coast who was so happy he got to write the words "Bushido Jesus". If you'd like to mash up historical warriors and religious figures contact him @John_Laryngitis