The Walking Dead Issue 186, The Power Keg Review: Well, that Escalated Quickly.

4 stars
Coming into Issue 186, “The Powder Keg,” I knew something bad was going to happen.
There had been so much build up towards something happening in previous issues that if nothing had happened it would have been a serious let down.
Thankfully, the big event that had been built up for so long occurred in this issue with Michonne betraying Rick to Pamela and then Rick being forced to shoot Dwight after he pulls a gun on the new Governor.
I had my suspicions that a character would die this issue but I never suspected it would be Dwight.
I thought he would be the one to instigate a revolution against the Commonwealth’s leadership but it seems his death will be playing that role.
However, the big shock of the chapter was not Dwight’s death but Michonne’s betrayal.
Sure, her daughter does live in the Commonwealth but I thought she would have more faith in Rick to control Dwight rather than having to sell him out to Pamela.
This was obviously a terrible idea as well because Michonne’s actions may have unintentionally set off the titular “powder keg” that will set the Commonwealth ablaze.
This is because Rick seems to have fully accepted Dwight’s ideology and now believes he chose the wrong side in the upcoming war by the end of the issue.
Still, I do not think this will turn into a war because we have already had two of them in quick succession so something new has to happen.
I wonder what that could be though?
Whatever the case, this sequence of events was very shocking and finally made me get on Dwight’s side, even if he did die.
In earlier issues I actually hated what Dwight was doing, thinking it was dangerous but now I see his reasoning behind it.
Because of the trauma he experienced at those who held onto power like Negan, Dwight judges Pamela to be no better than them and a detriment to freedom and society.
It was also easy to see why he felt this way about Pamela, due to the issue showing how she leaves dangerous Walkers around to shoot at so she can act like she is the one keeping everyone safe.
This explanation made me relate a lot to Dwight’s actions and made it all the sadder when Rick had to shoot him in a moment that was reminiscent of Dwight’s first appearance, when he murdered Abraham.
Dwight was introduced with an out of nowhere death and he departed with an out of nowhere death.
It was very fitting.
The rest of the issue is pretty decent with a touching scene between Eugene and Stephanie and a funny scene between Carl, Sophia, and the new kid Joshua.
However, there were still a few weak moments.
The first interaction between Rick and Michonne had Rick slowly coming around to Dwight’s idea, even though he had been completely against it earlier so it felt out of place.
Then there was the scene between Magna, Heath and Vincent where it was revealed Magna had been left in charge of the community even though she is a fairly new addition, compared to Heath and Vincent.
This also felt out of place.
Still, these moments were nothing major just small gripes I had.
The rest of the issue is great and seems to finally set the power keg off with the shocking death of Dwight and the even more shocking betrayal of Michonne.

The Walking Dead Season Nine, Episode Six to Mid Season Finale Discussion.

In my last The Walking Dead discussion post I talked about the departures of Maggie and Rick and how I felt they would impact the show.
I said that despite their departures the show’s future looked bright and, based on the final three episodes of this half of the season, I think I can stand by that statement.
Even though viewership is still declining, I think The Walking Dead is returning to its glory days and it will only get better as it goes on.
The show has already made improvements on its comic book counterpart, something that has not happened since season five.
This improvement can be seen in the episode after Rick’s Departure, “Who Are You Now?” where we get the official introduction of Magna (Nadia Hilker) and her group after they appeared at the end of the previous episodes.
I already think these characters are a massive improvement on their comic versions.
Magna is a lot more fleshed out and given more backstory, with it being revealed she was in prison.
Her group of Yumiko (Eleanor Matsura), Luke (Dan Fogler), Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Kelly (Angel Theory) are also made much more interesting because they are given more characteristics and a lot more to do.

Magna 3
The portrayal of Magna, Yumiko, Kelly, Connie and Luke is already better than what we have been given so far in the comics.

I also liked how this episode and the other ones place a divide between the communities.
Everything was all hunky-dory after all out war in the comics so to see such open hostilities between the communities is very interesting, especially because we do not know what caused this divide.
We do know it has something to do with the X’s carved into Daryl and Michonne’s back but not much else.
This adds a layer of mystery to the story, which I am really enjoying.
However, the seventh episode of the season “Stradivarius” is definitely the weakest of the season because, while it does continue the character growth of Magna and her group, it only slightly pushes the story forward.
It is certainly not a bad episode though, and the season not having one bad episode out of eight is definitely something the last few seasons cannot attest to.
The mid-season finale, “Evolution”, is one of the best episodes of the season, possibly only falling behind Rick’s goodbye episode “What Comes After.”
It features the moment I have been waiting for even since it happened in the comics… the reveal of the Whisperers and it does not disappoint.
The final moments of this episode felt like a horror movie and brought incredible levels of tension.
This unfortunately led to the death of Jesus.
I had heard rumors of his death before watching the episode but I was still disappointed to see him go because, just like his actor Tom Payne said, he had been badly underused up to this point.
That said, what an epic way for him to go out.
It was a masterful sequence that shocked me, even though I knew it was coming, and showed the true horror of the Whisperers.
Just as Jesus finishes killing some Walkers in an amazing use of slow motion he walks towards safety but two more stand in his way.
He takes out the first one when suddenly the second one ducks and stabs him from behind whispering in his air, “you are where you do not belong” as thunder crashes around them.

Jesus
Even though it is sad to see Jesus go he got one hell of a send off.

This was an amazing way to reveal the Whisperers because it shows how deadly they are with many unable to tell if they are Walkers or Whisperers in disguise.
We then got the intense cliffhanger of the group realizing the supposed talking Walkers are actually people wearing their skin and then hearing multiple Whisperers as they surround them before cutting to black.
And, with that, the first half of season nine comes to a close.
I have been saying for a while now that season nine was the make it or break it season for me, where the show would either recover from its dark descent or rise above it.
Thankfully, I am now certain that the show has moved past the dark times of seasons seven and eight.
Angela Kang has done an amazing job with this season and if it continues like this, it may be one of my favourite seasons of The Walking Dead.
One thing is for certain though, I cannot wait to see how the rest of the Whisperer arc plays out in the next half of the season, where we will get the much awaited arrivals of Lydia, Alpha and Beta.

The Walking Dead Issue 185, On Guard Review: The Calm Before the Inevitable Storm.

3 and a half stars
When Rick got his hand cut off by the Governor all the way back in the prison arc, I never thought there would be a twist where he gained the magical ability to grow it back.
However, in the latest issue of The Walking Dead, “On Guard”, Rick obtained this ability because while talking with Dwight his hand magically grew back!
Okay, time to get serious now.
In all honesty Rick’s hand appearing to have grown back was nothing more than a funny mistake.
That said though, the scene where this happened was anything but funny, with Rick confronting Dwight about his actions throughout “On Guard.”
This moment marked the culmination of Dwight’s devious actions, which began right from the last issue’s cliffhanger, where Dwight was angered by Rick’s refusal to attempt a take over of the Commonwealth.
Here, in the beginning of the issue, Rick logically points out to Dwight why they could never take the Commonwealth by force and tells him to get out.
After this, Dwight attacks some soldiers to gauge the citizens’ reaction and is thrown in jail.
This leads to the ending scene of the issue where Rick confronts Dwight (and we are given that funny mistake of Rick’s regrown hand), with him again logically pointing out why Dwight is wrong.
I do not think Dwight will listen though, despite how much I hate where his character is going.
He was such an amazing character in the Whisperer Arc, however, after Sherry’s death, he has been in a slow downward spiral.
I do not know if Robert Kirkman is trying to make him unlikable but if he is not then he really needs to improve on Dwight’s character.
Still, Dwight’s antics did lead to be best part of the issue, which was the cliffhanger.
In the final scene, after Rick once again points out how dangerous Dwight’s plan is, he is confronted by Mercer who overheard the conversation.
Mercer calls Rick “the leader the Commonwealth needs” in a fantastic bit of development from him that shows just how impressed he has become of Rick and his people during the brief time they have known each other.
This also has massive implications for the next chapter because, based on the chapter, it looks like someone will try to assassinate Pamela with Rick getting in the way so maybe this is an expansion of Mercer’s endorsement of Rick.
That said, I do not think Mercer will be the one aiming the gun at Pamela because he has stated previously he has never wanted her dead so I have no idea who the gunman will be.
The rest of “On Guard” was pretty decent, with both good and bad moments.
For example, the scene where Rick breaks down into tears over how much Andrea would have loved the Commonwealth was a great scene.
However, the one where Sophia complained to Carl about how she has never had sex had a lot of cringe to it and I really hope it is not setting up some kind of love triangle between them and Lydia.
Although, there were plenty of good and bad moments in this issue I am eagerly looking forward to the next one.
Multiple things are hinting at this issue, “The Powder Keg,” being a big turning point, from its title, to the cover, to even a scene between Magna and Yumiko in “On Guard.”
In a moment between the two Magna comments, “when things are peaceful, that’s all just killing time between the horror.”
And if that is not an ominous hint towards next issue then I do not know what is.

The Walking Dead Issue 184, Eugene Tinkers Review: Good Overall but Weak Cliffhanger.

3 and a half stars
Just as I predicted in last month’s issue of The Walking Dead, in this one Eugene begins his plans to set up a train between the Commonwealth and Rick’s communities, hence the title “Eugene Tinkers.”
This was a very good issue overall, that primarily dealt with Rick and Dwight’s reaction to the Commonwealth, the aftermath of the Anthony Keith situation, and Eugene’s plan.
All of these plots were handled fairly well, especially when they intersected with Rick getting a sense of the Commonwealth through Michonne and her involvement in the case of Anthony Keith’s death.
This moment provided my favourite panel of this issue with Michonne wondering if she has sold her soul to keep peace in the Commonwealth.
Michonne states with fear, “I’m afraid I already have” and her face is covered entirely in darkness, which is a great use of symbolism in regards to her getting involved in the darker aspects of the new community.
She also seems to have got the soldiers who killed Keith off the hook for now so it will be interesting to see how the public react to this given the intense ending of the riot at the beginning of the issue.
Though the way Rick handled things in the aftermath of this did seem to bring a lot of people over to his side as evidenced by the two Commonwealth citizens who seem interested in moving to his community.
Pamela was obviously concerned about this because, in an earlier scene, she helped Rick clean up the mess of the riot just so she could look though.
Her son Sebastian, however, was not having it and continues to be a total jerk in any given situation.
Other interesting events of the issue include the trial Michonne speaks at, which shows how the Commonwealth’s court system works and the revelation that Princess and Mercer are in a relationship.
I honestly laughed when I saw this because I felt like her kissing him a few issues back was just a joke so it was kind of funny to see that Kirkman actually intended that to be the building blocks for their relationship.
That is not to say I think this is poorly done because I will have to wait to see how their relationship progresses and their characters grow before I know if the two work together or if this is a misfire.
Of course the big moment of the issue is Eugene’s plan to reconstruct a railroad between communities, which has huge world building implications for the series.
However, the issue was not all good because the cliffhanger is very weak.
Dwight basically confronts Rick about helping the Commonwealth through getting their own leader there.
Rick refuses and Dwight gets angry, then it is on to the letter hacks.
I felt like this cliffhanger was very weak because it is almost certainly a fake one, which will be immediately resolved at the beginning of the next issue.
If not, then this will only add more to the pointless Rick vs Dwight subplot, that is honestly making me really dislike Dwight, which is a shame because he was a real standout in the Whisperer War arc.
Overall though, “Eugene Tinkers” was a good issue that had plenty of interesting moments and set up plenty of interactions between Rick and the Commonwealth community.

The Walking Dead deals with real world politics in Issue 183.

4 stars

WARNING: Major spoilers for the issue.

The Walking Dead goes to interesting places both figuratively and literally in the latest Issue 183, titled “And Michonne Without her Sword”.
The issue sees Michonne witness police brutality at the hands of the Commonwealth soldiers, which results in the death of a civilian.
The Walking Dead has been going for a political storyline since the Commonwealth was introduced but this is the first time it has brought up a current, real world, political issue.
I cannot claim to know much about the subject but from the news I have seen police brutality is a very controversial subject in America so to see this being implemented into The Walking Dead is certainly interesting.
It makes this most recent issue all the more relevant, although I do feel like some of the events went by too fast.
It went from witnessing the police brutality, to a peaceful protest, to a riot in just a few pages, which was very abrupt.
I wish this had been established in previous issues and this one just built off that but that does not mean what we got was not good.
I think Robert Kirkman handled the subject very well and it offered even more insight into the flawed political system of The Commonwealth.
Lance orders Michonne to defend the soldiers because he does not want their system to be undermined.
In a real world scenario, this would be a rather disgusting thing to order, considering a man died but since this is the apocalypse and the collapse of The Commonwealth’s political system could be disastrous it makes the situation more complex.
The other interesting event of the issue saw Michonne and Elodie go to the community of Greenville.
There they met its leader Cloris, who definitely looks to be on Pamela’s side when it comes to political ideas because she criticizes Michonne for giving expensive food to poorer people.
The discussion of political topics in this issue was very well done and it being current certainly made it more interesting than previous issues.
One criticism I do have is the scene where Michonne and Elodie are on their way to Greenville with the soldier Jerome, the one who would later beat the man, Anthony Keith, to death.
In this scene, Jerome is surrounded by zombies, forcing Michonne to save him.
My problem here lies in how Jerome got surrounded as it seemed very contrived and just another way to put in some pointless action.
Otherwise though, “And Michonne Without her Sword” was a really good issue that looks to have some interesting implications for the future because it ends with Rick arriving at the Commonwealth just as the riot begins.
I cannot wait to see what his reaction will be.

The Walking Dead Issue 181: Another average issue.

3 stars
I am getting pretty tired of all the average issues The Walking Dead has been putting out recently.
Not to say that any of these recent issues have been bad but the last time there was any real excitement to the story for me was when Michonne discovered her daughter was alive.
Since then there has been some interesting commentary on politics but no excitement to go along with this, except for extremely manufactured excitement.
Unfortunately, this carries through to Issue 181: Together Strong.
Usually I would be more forgiving of this because this is the beginning of a volume and those start out pretty slow but with so many average issues coming before it I cannot help but fault the story of this issue.
Once again, this issue was not bad but nothing all that interesting happened.
The one substantial thing to note was the scene where Jesus and Aaron told Maggie that all the Whisperers were dead.
This moment was either Robert Kirkman foreshadowing that the Whisperers would return or admitting through the characters that he messed up the Whisperer storyline.
I hope it is the former because with the Whisperers returning the story could potentially get more interesting.
Besides, just because Kirkman admits he made a mistake does not fix the mistake.
There were also some fairly average scenes throughout.
One scene that I personally thought would be kind of awkward was when Carl met the new kid Joshua.
I get the feeling this is going to be weird for both Carl and Lydia because both of them had friends named Josh and both of these Joshs died.
Finally there was the moment when the group fought off a small herd but this action felt manufactured just to put some excitement in the story.
Both Princess and Mercer were in danger during this scene but I found it difficult to care since they just got introduced and I know Kirkman is not going to kill them yet.
Although, I will admit the moment where Princess kissed Mercer afterwards was pretty funny.
Then there is the cliffhanger, which also feels manufactured to create tension.
It ends with Mercer glaring at Pamela but we already knew he had a grudge against her and her family so this is nothing new.
As I said, none of this was bad and if this issue had came after some exciting ones to bridge the gap between storylines I would like it more but, with a string of average issues coming beforehand, this one just felt underwhelming.
Sadly, it looks like Issue 182 will be just as average based on the cover.
That being said though, I am excited for Issue 183 because that is where it looks like things will get interesting.
Overall, Together Strong was just an average issue.
Not good, not bad, just okay.  

The Walking Dead Issue 180: Interesting yet Disappointing.

3 stars

Warning: Major spoilers for the issue.
In this issue of The Walking Dead Rick meet the Governor of The Commonwealth, Pamela Milton, leading to an interesting conversation but a disappointing lack of excitement.
That is not to say this issue was bad, in all honesty it is just good, but given that this is the final issue of Volume 30 and featured a meeting between the leaders of two communities, I certainly expected more things to happen.
It looks like the problems that Rick will have with Pamela and The Commonwealth are solely political at this point, not that there is anything wrong with that but if this entire story arc with The Commonwealth is going to be solely political talk it would lack serious excitement and be difficult to read through again.
So hopefully the story will pick up and more exciting things will happen with the interactions between The Commonwealth and the other communities.
As for the conversation between Rick and Pamela, they got along surprisingly well with Pamela even insisting that Rick call her by her name instead of Governor, when he tells her about the previous Governor who cut off his hand.
Things only grew sour between the two when Pamela seemed to have problems with the way Rick was running things, leading to Rick saying, “then maybe we need a new world order.”
I loved this line of dialogue because it established that the title of this story arc, New World Order, was actually in reference to Rick’s way of doing things and not Pamela’s, which, in retrospect, makes a lot of sense since Pamela’s political system is based off politics in today’s world, while Rick’s is something new.
Aside from their conversation, there were a few other interesting moments in the issue.
First of all there was Lance giving Michonne and Elodie a new home, due to Michonne’s lawyer status, which will be interesting to see if Michonne can continue as a lawyer considering all she has been through.
Then there was Dwight who finally came out of his phase of hating Rick after Sherry’s death.
I will admit though, while I am glad Dwight has come to his senses because his hatred for Rick felt very forced, it does render that storyline pointless.
There were even a few interesting moments before Rick’s conversation with Pamela.
My favourite scene of the issue was Rick’s reaction to seeing Eugene with Michonne’s sword and immediately assuming the worst.
Even better during this scene was Eugene’s comment on the mathematical possibility of Michonne finding her daughter again, which was funny.
One of the most interesting moments of the issue though came when Maxwell Hawkins, Pamela’s assistant, glared at her and Rick as they walked off to talk.
I am curious to see what that was about.
Overall though, not that much happened this issue as it mainly focused on the interactions between Rick and Pamela and their different political views.
It was a serviceable issue but did lack excitement.
Hopefully, the story will pick up in future issues.