I’m sure most people who came here to read this review are primarily interested in one big thing, and so, let’s get it out of the way. Magna did not free Negan!!! Thank God. I’m not sure where Kirkman is going next with the Negan storyline, but I’m not yet ready to have another All Out War installment.
While this was not an oversized issue by a long shot, it certainly was full of all kinds of goodies, some of which was in that very short first scene with Magna and Negan. The big reveal is that Magna and her comrades aren’t really what they seem. I’m sure we all were suspicious when Magna emphatically denied having encountered any other survivors over the past 7 months. That probably was not true, and it turns out she may have a dark past as well. She immediately can tell by looking at Negan that he hasn’t been tortured like he claimed, and she also touts to be very adept at sniffing out liars. So, either she’s a female version of a Negan herself, or she’s been on the receiving end of assholes just like him in the past. Probably the latter. Either way, can’t wait to see her back story unfold.
Over at the hilltop, Rick and Carl have finally arrived, and Carl isn’t entirely thrilled when he learns he’s not the only new blacksmith apprentice. Yes, Carl, you may actually have to learn to play well with others. But, the big surprise is we finally get to see Maggie’s new baby, who we learn is named Hershel Jr. I had thought it might be Glenn, but actually, Hershel is a lot better.
While many may have thought the big jaw-dropper was the opening between Magna and Negan, it paled compared to the bomb Kirkman drops on us in the final scene. Marco comes running back to the Hilltop, frantic that Ken had been hurt and he had to leave him out there to die. However, he was panicking not because of having to leave Ken, but because of what he heard when they encountered the group of roamers. They were dead, and they were whispering. They were whispering. Holy crap!! And, if they were whispering, what exactly were they saying?
We should remember that the walker illness only restarts the brain-stem, and if that’s the case, there is no way a walker would even be capable of speech. So, what gives?! My guess is either the illness/virus has mutated, and it now restarts more of the brain besides the brain-stem. Or, the illness has evolved, and you don’t actually die, per se, after being infected. The big thing is if these walkers were truly talking, that means it’s likely a part of their personality is being retained after infection, something that no one thought was ever possible.
Truly awesome issue. Loved, loved, loved it. The only thing I can’t say I liked was the new cover design. When I first walked into the comic book store, I barely could even find the new issue because I had a hard time seeing the title. That’s not cool. I think either they need to make the color of the title stand out more, or consider going back to the old design.
Critic Grade — A