The standoff that ended last issue is broken pretty quickly as Rick and Jesus put their big plan into effect.
Another fast paced, quick read, issue 116 was an enjoyable one, providing some surprises and call backs to lessons learned from earlier storylines. The result is a very satisfying conclusion to this particular chapter and the promise the war is only beginning.
As Negan and Rick face each other down, the former suddenly realizes there's a mere handful of men from the Hilltop leaving, not half the army as Gregory promised. With that Negan pushes him off the wall and opts for a more diplomatic approach with the invaders.
Rick holds firm to his demands so Negan's men begin firing. Rick's army takes cover and begins picking off the snipers, then unleashes a barrage of gunfire to pin down Negan and his men inside. Negan orders Dwight off to warn the other outposts, but realizes too late just what Rick's plan is—the cacophony has drawn every walker in the area to their position. With the plan working, Rick loads up his troops on the buses, intending on ramming the gate himself with a car.
Holly rushes out to stop Rick, wanting revenge for Abraham. She realizes he's willing to strand himself inside with Negan to break the gate, but Rick assures her he's the only one he won't kill. Holly knocks him down and takes the car, breaking through the barrier and hitting a wall.
As Negan orders everyone inside before the zombies enter the compound, he finds Holly alive, advising her he won't be letting her off that easy. Outside, Jesus is pleased with their first victory, but Rick warns it's just the beginning of the war.
Issue 116 had some unexpected twists, not the least of which was Rick managing to derail Negan on a couple of fronts. Having grown to expect regular defeat lately, this first victory was a long time coming. The use of the herd as a weapon comes from plenty of past teaching moments and it worked really well as a battle tactic. As Rick comments, he who attacks first, wins.
It looks like Dwight didn't make it out, so I hope Rick and company manage to take down the other outposts before they can be alerted to trouble. Negan does have, Holly, however, and I'm sure she's in for a world of hurt as Negan will certainly want to demoralize his enemies by making an example of her.
What didn't ring right was Rick's decision to drive the car through the gate. Was he planning on being captured? After all the talk from Jesus that his people need him alive as a leader? That makes no sense and he's mistaken if he thinks Negan still needs to keep him alive—what better symbol to parade to their troops than Rick's dead body?