As the tense standoff with Negan goes on, events quickly accelerate at Alexandria.
Continuing on the cliffhanger from last month, Issue 114 delivered a strong conclusion to the current storyline, with a dash of deux ex machina. But that didn't detract from enjoyment of the story as the series moves into its epic All Out War.
As Negan gloats to Rick at Andrea's apparent death, he adds it's only the beginning of the killing he's about to inflict on him and his people. That leads to one of the prisoners pleading for his life given he has a family, but that only raises Negan's ire, and suggests anyone who tells him to kill this guy will be spared. The others refuse, so Negan prepares to begin his slaughter until Jesus arrives in force with Ezekiel (and tiger). Jesus apprehends Negan and holds a gun to his head, warning his men to stand down.
In the tiger slashing mayhem, Negan escapes with a few of his men and Ezekiel lets them go, warning Rick they still outnumber them and they're not prepared. Rick runs to the church tower to find Negan's dead man on the ground, and a very beaten up Andrea up top.
At the doctor, she's stitched up while Ezekiel and Jesus agree things could have unfolded a lot worse than they did if they had arrived late. Michonne berates Rick for throwing away their advantage, but Rick maintains Negan knows very little about how organized they are. In a few days they'll have all the people they need to launch an attack. Later, he tells Carl he did right, and in the coming day he needs him to remain at Alexandria to help protect the town. Carl asks his father to make sure he kills Negan. Alone, Jesus chides Rick that he needs to do better next time. Rick is a leader that the people will look up to, and it will all fall apart without him.
Meanwhile, Negan tells his people to prepare for all out war.
Kirkman ended this storyline on a satisfying note, despite the last minute saves courtesy of Ezekiel and Jesus. There was really little else he could do without sacrificing a host of characters. Granted, Rick, Negan and Jesus all exemplified extraordinary survivability during the fight, with Negan's henchmen suffering the most at the paws of Ezekiel's tiger.
Hopefully Rick's hubris has been thoroughly put in check after this latest miscalculation, and I still question Jesus' belief that Rick can be a true leader to their new civilization. We'll see how it all plays out. I'm anxious to see these characters in a prolonged war setting, and I'm sure there are ample subplots to play out over the course of the next year.