Saturday, December 29, 2012

Review: The Walking Dead 105

Non Spoiler Review:
Issue 105 focuses entirely on Negan and Carl, as the cult leader takes him under his wing to show him how things are run in his home. A terrified Carl witnesses firsthand how Negan maintains his rule while awaiting a decision as to his own fate.

It was quite a fresh take for the series to leave Alexandria and show us more of Negan. I can't remember an issue that didn't feature Rick, so this one could very well be the first. Carl steps back into the forefront for the first time since getting shot, and we get some insight into his psyche beyond the cold shell he projects.

Spoilers Now!
Negan extends his hand to Carl, offering to show him around. Carl asks what he's going to do with him. Negan is vague, considering that the boy is quite a bad ass, but he wouldn't want to ruin the surprise.

Entering the compound, Negan is greeted by one man who asks if the gunfire should be a concern. His wife Molly needs some of the medicine they brought back, so Negan informs him he's earned enough points to have his pick. 

Negan is advised by another man, Carson, there's a problem with one of his wives, Amber. Everyone kneels as he passes. Carl is brought to Negan's harem, where Amber has recently volunteered to be his wife, though she already has a husband, Mark, who she's been cheating with. Negan asks her to choose whether to stay or go, so she opts to stay, which leads Negan to tell Carson to prepare the iron.

Negan then chats with Carl alone, ordering him to take off his bandages. Carl does so, getting Negan's horror at his face, which makes him cry. That upsets Negan, but he's interrupted by another of his men who brings in Lucille he forgot in the truck. Negan insists Carl keep the bandages off to make him look bad ass. Then he tells Carl to sing him a song as part of his punishment for the men he killed. Carl sings You Are My Sunshine while Negan swings his bat.

Carson advises the iron is ready, so they go down to the main area where Negan makes a speech about the need for rules. Amber made the choice to be his wife, but the price is total devotion. As a result, her husband Mark gets the hot iron on the side of his face. Then Negan tells Carl it's time to figure out what to do with him.

The Verdict:
Issue 105 gave us a focus on Carl we haven't seen in quite some time. Absent his father, it was a novel perspective. Negan also got some humanity, though in small doses. He appears to follow his own code, but is always within a hairsbreadth of flying off the handle.

I'm wondering if Kirkman might really surprise us and leave Carl with Negan for an extended amount of time. What would happen to him with a new mentor in the absence of his father (and what would this do to Rick's sanity losing his son?). Negan appears to already see Carl as a potential protege so that would make for an interesting twist.

Negan's installation is a doppelganger of the Hilltop and Alexandria. He's firmly running a cult of personality and an iron (pun) rule. He appears to have successfully set up a system of points to run his society, as well as some checks and balances against dissent. How stable is it all? If Carl should kill Negan (not that I think that's going to happen, at least for quite awhile), where would the power flow?

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