Friday, May 11, 2012

Review: The Walking Dead 97

Non Spoiler Review:
Attention returns to Alexandria, as the population await the return of Rick and his crew. Eugene and Abraham go exploring for bullet-making supplies. Maggie's got a secret. And on the road, Rick encounters followers of Negan.

The storyline is kicking into high gear and moving briskly now compared to previous issues. There was a good balance of action, plot development, and some character stuff, making for a dense issue with the promise of lots of twists and turns to come.

There are more and more hints that Kirkman could be making a big paradigm shift in what this series is about. I could be misinterpreting some of the foreshadowing, but it's a really engaging storyline, nonetheless.

Spoilers Now!
Meanwhile, back at home, everyone gathers for church service and prays for the safe return of Rick and his crew. And Carl? He's missing, of course, and Maggie (hopefully) assumes he's with Rick. She's also experiencing some nausea.

Abraham visits Eugene, who has been researching the phone book for possible locations of equipment to make bullets. But he can't help but rub in that he's now with Rosita, only she doesn't feel the same way.

As for Rick, the van is on the way home, only to be halted by an ambush of bikers who order them to stop in the name of Negan. Andrea and Michonne dispatch all but one with ease, leaving Rick to order the survivor to return to Negan with instructions that they will now pay Rick half their supplies, and he'll protect them instead. After he's gone, Carl has regained some memories, particularly of a similar event on the road (when he was nearly raped, and Rick butchered the attackers), giving Rick mixed feelings about his son's memory returning.

The group gets back to Alexandria and bring everyone up to speed, the majority of whom are excited and agree that they can provide protection for the Hilltop in exchange for supplies. Maggie reveals she's pregnant. Andrea and Rick decide that the future is starting to look pretty hopeful and perhaps they could try out a relationship. While keeping the perimeter clear, a particularly rotted walker is discovered.

Abraham and Eugene go exploring for supplies, with Eugene subtly taunting him that he's Rick's lapdog. Meanwhile, some armed strangers are watching them from behind a building.

The Verdict:
Given my occasional complaint that the storyline was moving slowly, Kirkman brought Rick and Negan on a collision pretty quick. I have a sinking feeling that Rick's hubris is a bit out of control and he's horribly misjudged Negan. His manner of dealing with his followers was pretty brutal (but that's who they've become, I guess), but I don't doubt it's going to backfire (and perhaps against the Hilltop rather than Alexandria). This other group spying on Abraham and Eugene could be entirely unrelated to Negan, or part of his group. Hard to tell at this point.

Eugene is the other interesting variable this time as he seems eager to sow discord at every opportunity with Abraham. I don't believe he has a particular agenda, but just a need to show his worth now that he seems to be doing something for the community, and having Rosita staying with him appears to have fluffed his ego.

That wasn't the only character drama. Finally some movement on the Rick and Andrea kiss, too. It seems odd they've not talked about it in all this time. How will Maggie's pregnancy turn out? Her stomach problems had me initially musing about non-zombie maladies in general. We haven't really seen any of the characters come down with a serious disease like cancer or diabetes. It would certainly be tragic to survive the apocalypse only to succumb to cancer. Given how impressed Glen was with the Hilltop, I'm wondering if he might now want to move his family there?

Also of note was the rotting zombie Abraham and Eugene discover, which calls back to a similar curious walker they found on the road a ton of issues back. That makes me wonder if Kirkman could be winding down the zombie apocalypse—that the walkers have a lifespan before they just rot away. That's an interesting development, if, in a few years we find the survivors existing in a world with far fewer walkers and simply managing the situation. That would be quite a change in direction, but one that would flow logically with all that's gone before. Regardless, I'm back to anticipating each issue to see where it all goes (especially coming up on the 100th).

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