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SPOILERS!!! You have been warned!
Welcome to the second issue of RedGrimes Reviews! Conversation is encouraged; Feedback is welcome.
In my opinion, this issue is one of the better plot-driven issues that Kirkman and Aldard have churned out recently; a bit of redemption from 128. Very well-done.
Rating System: A simple comparison of how enjoyable this issue is compared to others before it. Naturally, opinions are subjective. You are free to agree or disagree.
It seems like Carl is actually developing into a normal-ish young man, despite the many gruesome and horrible things he has experienced (Slaughtering saviors, executing toddlers, cannibals, attempted rape, getting shot, etc. etc.). In many ways it feels like Carl is a microcosm of ASZ and the entire community at-large. He is falling in-line with expectations Rick has set. He hardly seems violent or sadistic, becoming cultured and productive - quite the contrast from what we saw in AOW and prior. It is interesting to consider that the personalities of children and young people often reflect that of the society in which they grow up in. And therefore, much of Rick's motivation to be a successful leader of a thriving society may be for the benefit of Carl's development.
Ahh... There's the flare of the old Negan we know and love (to hate). I feel that the dialogue between Rick and Negan was the best part of 129, having hugely profound implications, especially when Negan tells Rick that he knows he should have killed him rather than let him live, and that Rick is too obsessed with the concept of normal society to do what should have been done. Though Rick implies that Negan has been broken down somewhat via incarceration, reading between the lines we can see that Negan has not been reformed and is more like a caged wild animal, just waiting for the right opportunity to escape and unleash his wraith on society once more.
Magna was already suspicious about ASZ, and now she has found 'evidence' to support her argument that something isn't right about the community. Of course Negan will fabricate some outlandish story to convince her to release him from prison. Ironically, Rick, Andrea and perhaps other members of ASZ are partially at-fault for what may happen as a result of Magna meeting Negan unsupervised. In 129, Rick is short-winded in addressing her questions about holding prisoners. Yes, they took Magna and her group's weapons. But, doesn't it seem a bit irresponsible to just let them wander around the community with no guide? They are free to randomly wander into other people's houses or various buildings that they, as newcomers, may not be welcome in?
Rick is still talking the talk, but not quite able to still walk the walk (no pun intended). It is pretty impressive that there are numerous mounted patrolman on the roads between the communities, and all seems relatively controlled. It was almost like you could forget that there is a zombie apocalypse going on, and we simply have a father and son taking a trip somewhere with horse and buggy, like older times, talking about something innocent like young love. Then suddenly, there they are - cannibal corpses. At first it looks like Rick and Carl will make short work of the dead, but they don't. Rick is weak, and struggles to stave off the advance of only a few dead, and has to be saved by Carl. Then, what happens after is even more appauling. Rick's interaction with the patrolman Brandon seemed very... un-Rick-like. I admit that I've lost a bit of respect for this 'new' Rick. It's one thing to get punked by a handful of zombies and get saved by Carl. And it's another thing entirely to take advantage of your position of power as community leader and physically and verbally attack someone for not ensuring that a rather large stretch of road is not 100% safe - a job that promises to be very difficult. I tend to think that unless they put walls up along the entirety of roadway between communities, that the roads could never be 100% safe. I'm sure Rick reaction is largely driven by his frustration with his own inability to fend for himself the way he used to. But What he did to Benjamin was wrong and irrational - it almost reminded me of... (gasp!) Negan.
It looks like there is danger on the way in many forms, with Ken and Marco in dire-straits, now horse-less, slowly making their way home - with a large herd in tow. Negan is chomping at the bit to get out and reassert himself as an oppressive leader and hold everyone hostage again, and just may have his way courtesy of a naieve Magna. Rick looks more vulnerable than ever. Carl being relatively inaccessable at Hilltop will hurt Rick not just emotionally, but it will also deprive him of one of the people he trusts and relies on the most. It feels like Carl's departure may mark the beginning of when things start to unravel.
We still have many questions unanswered such as the fate of certain characters post-time skip. will Magna let Negan out of prison? Can't wait for 130.