CALL TO ARMS – 7.5/10
To say Rick Grimes has been through it a lot in the last 150 issues of The Walking Dead would be an understatement, in the last issue alone he had to fight for his life against two attackers. Surviving the zombie apocalypse has quite literally cost Rick an arm and a leg. In this issue he begins to realise that maybe he is not quite as capable as he once was. But that isn’t the only realisation for Rick in #150, after forgiving one of his attackers (the one whose throat he didn’t bite out) Rick is clearly starting to ponder if redemption might be a possibility for Negan. Of course one look at his old nemesis soon dispels that train of thought, or does it?
This issue focused on the formation and training of Rick’s new army, which at the moment is just a handful of volunteers that wouldn’t prove to be a great threat to Alpha’s mega herd. Rick and Dwight take the trainees outside of the walls for some target practice, but it nearly ends in tragedy when Rick finds himself unable to fend off an aggressive walker. He is rescued by Dwight, who having fully defected from the Saviours is beginning to function as Rick’s right hand, allowing for even more comparisons to Daryl Dixon. Dwight left the Saviours because he didn’t want to be a leader but Rick makes it pretty clear that sometimes you don’t have a choice.
Back at Alexandria, Maggie sets off for The Hilltop after her extended stay with the community. She’s been away for a long time since Gregory’s very public execution and I can’t help but feel that she will be returning to a brewing storm. Plus with Jesus staying behind to join Rick’s army now may not be the best time for Maggie to find herself without her post-apocalyptic ninja body guard. Rick gives Maggie a message to pass on to Andrea, telling her that it is safe to bring Carl and Lydia home, but his tone alone indicates that Rick is unsure if his son will want to come back to Alexandria. This is yet another realisation for Rick, that his son may no longer need or want his protection.
Maggie wasn’t the only person to depart Alexandria in this issue; despite his increasing isolation Rick suggest that Michone takes Ezekiel’s vacated role as leader of The Kingdom. Michone accepts the offer, but raises the very important point that The Saviours still need a new leader to replace Dwight, without a solid leader it’s very possible that they could slip back in to their old ways. The issue ends with Eugene tinkering with the Ham Radio he had been repairing for Rosita. Despondent, he broadcasts out across all networks and is genuinely surprised when someone responds. But this is The Walking Dead after all and new people are never to be trusted.
This was a solid issue that perfectly demonstrated the changes that Rick is going through as a leader, father and man. A particularly highlight was his shocked expression at the thought that perhaps he is doing the wrong thing by keeping Negan prisoner. Of course he is very much doing the right thing and if he were to be released it seems likely that Negan could easily reclaim his position as the leader of the Saviours, adding another combustible element to the tensions with The Whisperers. The panels showing Rick’s ‘soldiers’ returning to their families after their training also helped to demonstrate that the people of Alexandria are still feeling the after effects of Alpha’s attack.
We come away from issue 150 with a lot of unanswered questions; who can Rick trust to lead The saviours? Can this ramshackle army actually resist Alphas mega herd? Will Carl want to return to his father’s side? What is waiting for Maggie at The Hilltop? Will Negan ever be given a chance at redemption? But most importantly…. Who the hell was on the other end of that radio? Robert Kirkman is playing his cards close to his chest right now, not that he has ever been one for rushing a story, but there is a definite feeling of approaching thunder. The communities share an uneasy truce with the Whisperers right now and it seems that anything could serve as a spark to ignite that powder keg, perhaps a reckless saviour or maybe even Eugene’s new friends.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- In many ways Eugene’s obsession with the radio feels like a call back to his earliest days in TWD. Could the radio be his version of Rick’s phone?
- So after all this time Father Gabriel has finally decided to join the fight. I’ve never been a huge fan of the character so it will be interesting to see if this allows for some growth.
- Will the people of The Kingdom willingly accept Michone as their leader just because Rick commands it?
- Are we to believe that Alpha is staying on her side of the division line? It seems just as likely that she would be spying one, if not all of the communities.