This review of The Walking Dead #107 is going to be a spoiler-centric look at the main events, but I also have some thoughts on how the overall state of the book relates to the television show. If you’ve been metaphorically holding your breath since last month’s big cliffhanger, then this was probably among your most anticipated releases. So what did Negan do to Carl? He brought him home safe and sound. It’s a little anti-climatic, but not totally unexpected. This is surely more evidence that Kirkman is in the Nolan camp when it comes to his thoughts on the lack of tension and suspense that our current culture of know-it-all-media has fostered in entertainment, and isn’t above trickery (or straight up lying) to bring them into his storytelling. Remember the official solicit description? “Rick is, once again, pushed BEYOND his breaking point.” Yeah, that’s not exactly what happened here. Or is it? Even being teased about what might have happened to his son launches Rick into a rage, causing him to preemptively attack Negan. Rick puts up a decent fight, but Negan quickly regains the upper hand. When it’s revealed that Carl is more or less ok, Negan rubs it in our faces that he was just toying with us. I mean toying with them. Or do I? Negan admits his word choice was intentionally provocative, and I can’t help but feel Kirkman was kind of speaking to us through him in that exchange. It all ties together pretty nicely, but even though I often write about tension and suspense in storytelling they aren’t ALL of it. Sometimes it’s OK to just want to see a little ass kicker kick some ass. By a show hands (or maybe “likes” or something on this article) how many people wanna kick some ass! I do, I do! Anyway, it’s all about power and control here. We’ve seen Negan at his most punitive, with Glenn and some others, but now he also wants to show us how in control he can be by not retaliating.
Carl’s trip is not a total loss, in fact Rick and the gang are looking at his experience like it was a recon mission, and are inspired by the information he brought back with him. It remains to be seen just how useful the information will be, but what I can’t stop thinking about is just how many outposts Negan has. The longer we spend on this storyline, the more time I have to reflect on just how much larger this world has become. We’ve moved up from the small group of stragglers to those with more permanent dwellings, to now even an expansive collection of connected civilizations. Over in the TV show, The Governor thinks he actually is accomplishing the goal of rebuilding, and Andrea’s speech references how history will look back at these early efforts. Looking at The Walking Dead through the lens of history – if Rick takes down Negan, will he be destroying something? How many whole empires could rise and fall over the course of the new human history that The Walking Dead depicts? Perhaps humanity will rebuild and destroy itself over and over again, with these first hundred issues or so being only a drop in the bucket compared to what the series has in store for us.