By Jared Cornelius
Welcome back to Typing on The Dead: Bleeding Cool's Walking Dead recap column. It's been a strange few months for the cast of the Walking Dead. After years of perpetual horror and terror things finally seem kind of normal for Rick and the gang, and we almost had some touching sitcom moments last month. But a new month means new challenges, so what does Kirkman have in store for the Alexandria community? Let's find out. As always *SPOILER WARNING* for the remainder of the article!
The Walking Dead #129 By Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard
We start off this issue with a sight we don't normally see, a beautiful sunrise. Carl is preparing for his trip to the Hilltop to become a blacksmith's apprentice. Carl marvels at the fact he has enough belongings to fit in two duffel bags, Andrea's watching him pack and reminds him he'll always have a room with her and Rick to which Carl gives a knowing smile.
We then turn to Negan, still caged in Alexandria's jail. Negan's time in jail has given him an interesting point of view on what is the best and worst part of his day as Rick arrives to deliver his meal. Negan lets on that he knows Carl is going to the Hilltop, which takes Rick back for a moment. Negan tells Rick that he knows all about Carl and even though Rick scolded him, Carl still visits Negan, even calling him his, "Buddy". Negan asks Rick about the sound of a windmill above, but Rick rebuffs him and reminds Negan that Alexandria is thriving. Negan still knows how to command a scene and lets Rick know his feeling on the matter.
Rick reminds Negan that he's in for life and notes that Negan doesn't swear as much these days. Negan tells him he's saving his energy, but Rick thinks there's another reason.
We return to Carl who's getting his goodbyes out of the way. As promised, Carl brings Josh a wooden carving, and Josh hasn't quite held up his end of the bargain yet, but tells Carl he'll have a sweatshirt for him by his next visit. Josh does provide Carl with some information that one of the local girls, Anna, was looking for him.
New Alexandria resident, Magna, catches Rick on his way out of the jail. Magna's curious about what buildings are private. Rick points out that the building he just came out of was the jail. Magna seems a little shocked that they have a jail, but Rick assures her it's the humane thing to do, and all its residents have earned the stay. When Rick mentions that they have one lifer and Magna asks to talk with him. Rick says he's very dangerous, but if she wants to talk to him she may when he returns from the Hilltop, but Magna doesn't seem too thrilled with Rick's answer.
With the packing done, Rick and Carl are all saddled up and ready to leave. The father-son duo get a send-off from the community and Carl gets a big hug from Andrea, whom he's still referring to as "Mom". Rick lets Andrea know he'll be at the Hilltop for a few days and Carl gets a visit from Anna, who gives him a letter to be opened when he arrives at the Hilltop.
The father-son duo then depart Alexandria and travel down a now well-patrolled road.
Rick and Carl end up down the road and have some father-son time. Rick badgers Carl about the letter he got from Anna, and he responds like a pretty typical teenager. Rick wears down Carl and finally he lets out a bit of selective information of Anna. It's a pretty nice moment until we're reminded of why the title is called The Walking Dead. A group of zombies appear, but Rick and Carl are old hats at zombie killing. Rick tells Carl to cover him, but not to fire unless necessary. Rick then jumps into action just like the good old days.
Carl thinks the zombies are getting too close and warns his dad, and Rick takes a few more out, but is almost blindsided by a roamer. Almost, because Carl makes the save with some well-placed shots. A member of the horse patrol makes an appearance and Rick is none too happy with him. Apparently part of the patrol's duty is keeping the road safe from zombies and making sure nothing is lurking, so Rick doesn't take the patrolman's mistake very well.
Rick takes the man's baton and starts cracking his helmet with it. Rick repeatedly admonishes him for his dereliction of duty and tells the man if he doesn't do his job, someone will be replacing him shortly. Rick gets the man's name and information and tells him he'll be reporting him, and if he should mess up again, he'll be reassigned. Rick leaves him off with some wisdom about the hard work and sacrifice they've put into making the world a better place, and patrolling the roads is one of the most important things.
In a far off different direction, we find Marco and Ken, two riders from last issue, struggling to make it back to the Hilltop. We're reminded the two are in uncharted territory and to make matters worse, Ken, who'd broken his leg, has fallen to the ground. That may not sound terrible, but matters become dire when the remaining horse runs off. To top it off, the two riders are being pursued by the undead as well. The two friends press on with the dead not far behind.
Back at the Hilltop, Magna and members of her group are investigating the jail under cover of nightfall. Magna seems sure that Rick and the people of Alexandria are hiding something and she's going to find out what it is. What she finds is Negan playing his role perfectly.
I feel like this issue really started setting up the dominoes for what's to come. Clearly Negan is still confident that he can best Rick, whether it be through a relationship with his son, or fooling Alexandria's newcomers, Negan is ready to play a victim to further his agenda.
The moment when Rick flew off the handle at the patrolman was a genuinely creepy moment. Rick's had his moments of being unstable, I'm sure we all remember the phone, but this takes it to a new level. Rick's never levied his authority in such a manor going so far as to humiliate another man in front of Carl. I mean he didn't even do that to Negan and he killed one of his best friends and brought a war to Alexandria. Perhaps this is another dissatisfied person for Magna to talk with?
I keep saying it, but Magna reminds me so much of Rick when he first came to Alexandria that it's hard for me to believe that there won't be a coup like the one Rick started. When we think about Rick and his group, we've seen them suffer such hardship and struggle, and we know who they are. Magna and her group are such wildcards, who knows what direction they'll go in?
It was also nice to get some more zombie danger back in the mix. I know Rick's declared the living the, "Walking Dead" but being able to manage the undead for so long has made them more background than anything else, so for me that moment of zombie battle felt good.
Some of the lighter moments struck me too. Carl seems very satisfied with his life at this point, leaving to become a blacksmith, having a good relationship with his step-mother, and a romantic interest in Anna. I'm really curious if Anna is a red herring for something more, or will be used to further a romantic sub plot between Carl and Sophia.
Getting a look at the world the communities have built since the war ended was really interesting too. We knew they'd figure out how to herd, but patrolling guards was another interesting development. I can only imagine that Kirkman is preparing us for the eventual reveals of how far both the Kingdom and the Hilltop have come since we last visited.
I've said this over and over, but things are so good in The Walking Dead right now, I can't help but think the other shoe is about to drop. The Walking Dead has always been about survival and hardships and the higher these people go, the further the fall is going to be.
That's all for this time, but while you wait for the next Typing on The Dead, why don't you go read my review of Captain Midnight Volume 1 from Dark Horse Comics on Friday. I'm giving away some comics swag like a few trade paperbacks and some single issue bundles. If you'd like to get one, all you have to do is follow me on Twitter @John_Laryngitis. I'll be selecting some fine comic reading folks at random to get some free stuff. A few caveats though, you must live in the continental US, (Sorry Hawaii, Alaska, and all our international friends.)
If you currently follow me for some ungodly reason, just send me a tweet saying you'd like to be included. If you're interested you can also check out my weekly article, Live(ish) From The Games Shop, where I tell you about hot new video game tapes that you can play on high powered computer math machines. I also do random articles during the week like that time Hal Jordan knocked boots with a 14 year old alien girl. Until next time, Stay Gold!
Jared Cornelius is some guy from New Jersey's coast who's trying to build that social media brand. If you'd like to help him accomplish that, (and maybe get some free comics) contact him on Twitter @John_Laryngitis