By Jared Cornelius
Welcome back to Typing on The Dead, Bleeding Cool's recap and dissection of the latest issue of The Walking Dead. Last issue was a breath of fresh air for me. After a long stretch at the Hilltop, Rick and company finally showed us that there was more to their brave new world than the Hilltop and Alexandria. With old friends reunited and some interesting details about the Whisperers, The Walking Dead has picked up a little steam. If you enjoyed the last issue, this one was more of the same but we've got some surprising new twists, some interesting character development, and somebody got a haircut. As always, *SPOILER WARNING* for the remainder of the article.
The Walking Dead #140 by Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard
Picking up right where they left off last time, Michonne and Rick are having a heartfelt discussion about her happiness. Michonne assures Rick that she wants to be happy but doesn't feel like she deserves it. Rick tries to convince her that miring herself in misery isn't going to bring back her children. However Michonne feels like she's living the life she deserves, Rick understands but tells her it doesn't make sense to him. Michonne retorts that it doesn't have to make sense and to get off her ass before she puts Rick on his. Rick agrees and says he just didn't want his best friend living a miserable life.
The two friends share a moment and it visibly brightens Michonne's demeanor. Michonne asks if Rick is heading right out, he tells her yes, and explains that Dwight is likely in Alexandria waiting for his cut of the fish. Michonne asks Rick to tell Dwight that she'll need more salt to preserve the fish they catch. Rick jokingly suggests sending back some of the under preserved catch, but promises to get the message along. Before leaving Rick tries to talk Michonne into going to the fair, telling her that Carl would really like to see her. She agrees that she'd like to go, but is non-committal on the issue, giving a sly smile.
Meanwhile at the Hilltop, Gregory is professing his innocence. He attempts to pull out just about every excuse you can think of, including him being Maggie's secret advisor, claiming that she had been working under his direction the whole time.
Dante asks why an empty bottle of stolen oxycodone pills were found in his trailer, but Gregory keeps professing his sniveling innocence, claiming they were planted there. Gregory goes so far as to suggest that Maggie poisoned herself, claiming "That's the only scenario that makes sense." Dante calls him out on the story as we find Maggie has been listening in too. Maggie confronts Gregory about standing over her and gloating while he was unaware of Jesus's presence, but claims that now Jesus is lying because he never liked Gregory. Maggie calls him pathetic to which Gregory lashes out that she's making fun of him, calling her a monster. Maggie takes a bit of offense to that seeing as Gregory just tried to murder her, and reminds him that he tried to kill her and celebrated because he thought he'd regained control. Finally Gregory comes to a startling realization.
Switching venues to Maggie's office, she and Jesus now have a tough decision on their hands. Maggie feels conflicted about wanting to kill Gregory, as does Jesus. However Jesus reminds her that Gregory is a threat. Maggie knows it's true, but feels with all Rick has gone through to keep Negan alive, how she can justifiably kill Gregory. Jesus feels that the situation is different and their biggest problem is being surrounded by people who once supported Gregory. Maggie doesn't feel like it's a problem as Gregory was a terrible leader, but Jesus reminds her how quickly people turned on her over Carl. More suspicious than ever, Jesus recalls how Gregory was involved with the families of the boys who attacked Carl and Sophia. Maggie agrees and they commit to interviewing the group, but before they can put the plan into action, Dante interrupts. Maggie had sent him out with a search party to look for Carl, but they were unable to locate him. Dante tells her they tracked him to the boarder of their known territory, but didn't want to go farther with the threat of the Whisperers. Maggie feels that Carl isn't in any real danger and he'll turn up, Jesus comments how Rick won't be happy about it, but Maggie currently has more pressing issues than Carl.
Out in a field Carl and Lydia are marching with the pseudo-zombie horde. Lydia tells Carl he shouldn't have come after her, as he looks around and gets a bit of reflection.
One of the Whisperers asks Alpha how much further, and she tells him/her/it the group is in the next clearing. Carl asks if they have a camp, but Alpha reminds him he must keep his voice down. She explains that they don't mark their territory with construction that withers and dies, that they shelter in the trees and live a more natural life out in the open. As they make it over the ridge, we catch our first glance of the Whisperers forces, with a large open camp full of livestock and a few hundred people milling about.
At the Hilltop, Maggie is speaking with Claudette, (who I believe I've been referring to as Tammy) about Gregory's failed assassination attempt. Claudette promptly throws Gregory under the bus, telling Maggie it was his idea and they were frightened of him. Her rational being that if Gregory could kill Maggie, what he might do to them. Maggie thanks her for telling the truth, and Claudette apologizes, but Jesus hasn't had his say yet. Jesus asks if Claudette was against the idea of murdering Maggie, why didn't she tell anyone. Claudette breaks down and explains that she was angry and felt she may have lost her son to the fight with Carl. Maggie's starting to feel a bit less forgiving as she asks why her husband or the other boys family hadn't come forth either?
After grilling Claudette, Jesus and Maggie finally sit down to decide what to do. Jesus suggests that the families who cooperated with Gregory should be sent away, but Maggie has the pressing issue of actually dealing with Gregory first. Maggie has finally come to a decision, and she feels that Jesus was right, Gregory must die.
In another location we see water and cloths strewn about with two men holding up guns. A voice from off panel tells them he's just as uncomfortable as they are. The shadowed figure is bathing, and is asked about a scar on his abdomen. He tells the off panel voice if they're nice he'll tell them the story of how he got it. There's some more banter, but I just can't contain my excitement, it's this guy.
Negan's back and cleaned up nice! Turns out the big guy was getting a haircut from Olivia. Unfortunately for him, Andrea comes down to put him back in lock up. He's ushered back into his cell as Olivia locks the door behind him. Negan sighs after his brief moment of freedom, but what's this? He leans on the door and it opens, ending the issue.
This was a good issue, not a great issue, but a good issue. I've been talking a lot in this column about the tone of the book and the change of pace from edge of your seat action to a more plodding long term satisfaction. My biggest problem with the recent issues being that quite often we're shuffled around from scene to scene with little to no pay off. Maybe it was because of Maggie's big decision, or the reappearance of Negan, but that didn't bother me this time around.
Speaking of which I was glad to see we finally get a little more resolution from Gregory's failed murder plot. I honestly never thought Maggie was in real danger of Gregory, but I didn't think the one time politician would go down the way he did. There was a little visceral satisfaction to seeing Gregory squirm and try and lie his way out of trouble, although he wasn't doing a particularly good job of it. It did strike me as strange that Gregory would still have a following of any kind at the Hilltop. After being subservient to Negan, sending people to die, and being shown up by Maggie Greene and company, I'd think his leadership wouldn't even be a question. If anything happened to Maggie, Jesus strikes me as the next suitable replacement.
The decision to kill Gregory is certainly an interesting one. It seems a bit more cut and dry to the reader who knows the truth. But with Gregory still apparently having some kind of following, coupled with the whole "Nobody Dies" policy that Rick put into place, how will Maggie justify his death to the Hilltop let alone Rick Grimes? Sounds to me like a great recipe for conflict between two longtime friends and survivors.
Our second big reveal this issue was a cleaned up and free Negan. He's showered, shaved, and ready for action. How far will he make it? Who knows, but quite frankly I think the idea floated by our dear leader Rich Johnston on Wednesday might have something to do with it. I've made no bones about Negan being my favorite villain of the series, he's rude, legitimately tough, and imposing. However his best characteristic is he thinks his way was the right one. The best villains are the ones who don't see themselves as villains. Your Doctor Dooms or Lex Luthors, characters who think they know what's best and they're changing the world for the better. In terms of the series big bads, Negan was never the lunatic the Governor was, he was a man helping other communities get by with his protection. Is his world view warped, absolutely! But Negan's the hero of his story and I like it that way. One thing that did catch my eye was who locked Negan up. While I have no doubt the two no name characters holding the guns and Andrea had nothing to do with Negan's door being left open, I can't help but wonder about Olivia. It seems to me not too long ago Negan was willing to show Olivia a good time when he and the saviors came for a visit in pre-war Alexandria.
We had a couple of smaller moments too, with Carl and readers finally getting a glimpse at the true force of the Whisperers. True to Alpha's word they are many. With a huge camp set up, livestock, and the protection of the dead, who knows what this force of people could be capable of. Although the group seems very much rooted in a mix of respect for the earth and nomadic herding it'll be interesting to hear more about where they've been and where they plan on going. They seem to be fine with Carl tagging along, perhaps we have a new recruit?
Finally we catch up with the star of last #139, Michonne, who was barely in the issue. It was fine and left some mystique, but I miss her sword swinging action and stoic demeanor. I guess we'll be seeing more of her, but I felt like an extended visit this issue would've been welcome.
That's all for this time. Remember you can check out my other regular column Sweet Release! Every Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. It covers the week's hot new video games for high powered consoles like the Atari 2600.
Jared Cornelius is some guy from the Jersey coast who's kind of hungry and wished something was open late night that didn't serve crap. If you'd like to suggest late night fine dining, contact him on Twitter @John_Laryngitis