In what seems like no time at all, we're down another issue. So let's review.
Negan: If I ever had any doubt that there was always a method to Negan's madness, those doubts are long gone. At first, I thought Negan's vague and longwinded explanation for why he killed Spencer was merely an excuse to hear himself talk, but now I'm thinking he was trying to provoke Rick the entire time. Although Negan claims not to enjoy killing people as opposed to seeing it as a necessity, he clearly does, but seems to prefer having an excuse to do so, even if he has to provoke someone. He acted as if Rick owed him a debt for killing one of his people who he claimed was a traitor, something he knew Rick wouldn't accept on his word alone even if he could prove it. To top it off, he taunted Rick with the knowledge that he spared Carl when he didn't have to, as if he should've thanked him for not killing his son. He knew exactly how to push Rick over the edge. And it worked.
Now Negan has exactly what I'm pretty sure he wanted the whole time, an excuse to make Rick and The Safe Zone suffer. This is somewhat similar to when he had Carl at his mercy, the difference being that at that time there was reasonable doubt as to whether or not he would do anything to him, which added to the suspense. Now, barring some kind of miracle, something horrible is definitely going to happen. Whether that means that someone or some people are going to die, or something worse, I'm glad to say I don't know. Negan's the kind of character you can't really predict, and thank everything for that.
I also can't help but wonder if his arrival at The Safe Zone was purely coincidental, since Dwight revealed himself as a double agent against The Saviors not too long before Negan's arrival, and we don't know where Dwight is or what his condition is right now. This is purely speculation, but it seems likely that we'll be hearing something on that development soon.
Rick: So now the truth comes out. Negan now knows that Rick has been plotting against him the whole time, and I'm pretty sure The Safe Zone has figured that out too. Now, some very pertinent questions come to mind regarding Rick's impulsive assassination attempt against Negan and his group.
1) Why, with all of the planning that went into forging an alliance with the other communities and maintaining the illusion of fealty to Negan, did he decide to jeopardise all of that in a firefight with him?
2) Why, if he knew Negan didn't trust him, didn't he think he would bring backup?
3) If he thought it was too risky to try to kill Negan during his first supply run in #103, why did he think that particular moment was their best opportunity? The only real difference between those two situations was Spencer's death. I know this sounds cruel, but did Spencer's loss warrant such immediate action? Rick really couldn't have waited to avenge Spencer along with the others they've lost?
The answer to all of these questions is, to put it simply, that Negan managed to get under his skin. Negan's ability to paint himself as the injured party was enough to throw Rick over the edge. You could make the argument that Rick saw Spencer's death as proof that Negan was capable of killing any of his people indiscriminately, and thought that immediate action was necessary to prevent that from ever happening again. But that isn't the way to fight Negan, and Spencer's death is not the one you risk everything to avenge. I also understand that Rick is a flawed character and that if he didn't sometimes make mistakes he'd become boring and unappealing. I even understand that as a reader, it's easy to imagine myself doing better in that situaiton. But this is the kind of mistake that makes more sense for Carl's character than Rick's. The difference is that even if you can't agree with or forgive Carl for some of his decisions, his age at least allows you to understand his thought process, and makes it easy to believe he'll learn from his mistakes. Such an excuse clearly doesn't apply to Rick, especially not now. I thought that Glenn and Abraham's deaths taught him a lesson about losing the battle to win the war, but this almost completely calls my faith in him as a leader into question. I actually find myself hoping for some serious fallout amongst the survivors.
Andrea: Though her part in this issue was relatively small, I still think it's worth mentioning. I have to wonder why she didn't stop to think for even a second when Rick told her to get to the tower. He's the one who convinced her that playing it safe was their best bet for the time being, yet now all of a sudden he's demanding that she put them all at risk? I understand that in the heat of the moment she didn't have much time to argue, and maybe Spencer's death distracted her a little, but why couldn't she have stopped to ask "Wait, but what about the plans we'd made?"- before being cut-off and yelled at by Rick? That she could at least have said that she tried to talk sense into him.
Conclusion: I'm not sure I remember having ever been this conflicted about an issue before. On the one hand, I loved the interaction between Negan and Rick, and I'm really happy with this cliffhanger. Yet I'm not at all satisfied with how they reached it. Attacking Negan and his men is, in my opinion, the worst mistake Rick has made to date. At first, Negan was a different kind of threat than Rick had ever faced before, so it made sense that Rick would have to think differently. Up until now it seemed as if he had the right idea about how to deal with it, and even if things didn't go according to plan, you couldn't have blamed him until now. In summary, it was a bad way to achieve a satisfying result. Hopefully I'll be less conflicted about Issue #113. Till then.