For those of you who care, sorry I didn't come out with a 113 review. At the time I didn't have much to say about it, so I thought I'd give someone else a chance to review it. So, without further ado, issue 114.
Warning, Spoilers Ahead.
Rick: I condemned Rick for his attempted assassination of Negan for a number of reasons in my 112 review, and only had a small amount of hope that either there was some kind of bakcup plan, or that he would be able to think his way out of it. I'm reasonably satisfied with how it all turned out, but the thing that struck me about this issue is that everyone, including Jesus, Andrea, Michonne, and Ezekiel seem to realize that the attack was a mistake. Yet Rick seems adament that his plan could've worked, never acknowledging that they only survived through a ridiculous amount of luck. He just seemed to brush off any critism, regardless of how valid or constructive it was. This is especially interesting since he seemed so resigned to his fate towards the beginning of the issue when he thought Andrea was dead. It's possible that he's just trying not to dwell on the past so as to keep moving forward, but part of what made him a good leader was his humility. He never claimed to be perfect, and only took charge when it was absolutely necessary. I have to wonder hypothetically, assuming that he still survived, how he would be if Andrea really had died. Would he be wallowing in self pity? Be in complete denial? Or would he be on the warpath? Regardless, the strength of the characters in the series lies in their ability to endure and survive to keep fighting on, and hopefully, even if he won't openly acknowledge his mistake, Rick will at least start relying less on impulse in the future.
Negan: In his first appearence, I didn't think much of Negan, but as the series went on, I came to respect him for being just as effective a psychological terrorist and tactician as he is a thug. So I have to wonder, if he was smart enough to have backup during his supply raid on the Safe Zone, why wasn't he smart enough to kill Rick when he had the chance. It's no secret that he loves the sound of his own voice, but not going through with killing any of his hostages makes him seem like much more of a cliche than he is. I get that Lucille getting shot distracted him to no end, but it also infuriated him enough that it would've made sense for him to take his anger out on someone.
That all being said, it does bring up an interesting point. Negan constantly states that he doesn't like to kill, no matter how much evidence we've seen to the contrary. Yet at this point, he gave the Safe Zone many opportunities to minimalize casualties, something he didn't even need to waste time lying about. In issue 113, he gave the impression that he'd leave if they surrendered Carl, and this time he offered to spare everyone if they gave up Nicholas. And in retrospect, he only killed Glenn when he could've easily killed every character he had at his mercy. Even though his actions contradict his claims of hating violence, he does seem to make a point of killing as few people as possible, for whatever reason.
Jesus Ex Machina: Negan's comment about why no one has shot Jesus yet is actually a valid meta critisim of his character. As entertaining as Jesus's fight scenes were and have been up until now, it's almost impossible to take him seriously, or get emotionally invested in him, if he's under no immediate threat of death or if no adequate explanation is given for his physical prowess. Although his comment about Negan's soldiers sucking could be a subtle hint at a military background, but this needs to be explained. I'm also not sure how I feel about Jesus coming to the rescue at exactly the right time, but 113 was fairly clever about not revealing when he and Aaron arrived at the outpost in relation to the events of The Safe Zone.
Apart form his fight scenes, I enjoyed his conversation with Rick, not just because he's not afraid to stand up to him, but because he's helped put things in perspective. At the same time, I'm not sure that building up Rick as the savior of mankind the way he did is doing him any favors. I also have to wonder why he gives Rick as much credit as he does. He gives Rick credit for trying to build something, but the Hilltop was already there and, according to Ezekiel, had more people than the other communities combined. If Negan had been oppressing them for so long, why wouldn't Jesus have raised an army on his own before he met The Safe Zone? From what we've seen, no one would mind if he became leader instead of Gregary. For that matter, why didn't he say that he needed help when he first met Rick and co, instead of blindsiding them with false promises of a paradise?
Ezekiel and Shiva: It's nice to see the two of them become proactive considering all the build up they've had. Although Ezekiel may have made a lot of sense during this issue, I'm hoping he becomes less dependent on the whole "benevolent ruler" facade he has going for him. A lot of his dialogue sounded as if he was reading from a fortune cookie. Still, he is definitey an asset to the alliance, and I look forward to seeing how he contributes.
I may be among the few that look the other way in terms of realism when it comes to Shiva, but I'm not sure what to think of being able to calm down a tiger while it's eating people. For that matter, why the hell would Shiva kill some people and not others? Is she really that well trained?
Conclusion: This was a reallt unusual issue in that it's one of only a handfull I can think of in which just about everything goes right. Several people were held hostage at gun point, and none of them died. I've never known the series to reward optimism like that. In that sense, any sense of peril generated by the previous issues was put to waste, but not in a way that led to an unsatisfying conclusion. It does feel as though the battle between "The Safe Kingdom From the Hilltop" and the Saviors could've gone on for more than one issue, but the All Out War Arc is coming out soon and at a rapid pace, so I'm guessing/ hoping that Kirkman has a plan. Once again we'll have to wait and see.