The latest installment of "The Walking Dead" comic was just released on July fifth, and what it lacked in action it made up for in plot. Although the whisperers have been taken care of as of now and Alexandria is being rebuilt (again), there are other communities just states away, and Negan is let out for good. Let’s get started!
With that said, this is a non-spoiler free review and also highly opinionated. Proceed with caution.
In the beginning of the issue, and in the sneak preview released earlier this week, we see Carl and Lydia sitting around Andrea’s grave. Carl reflects back on the first time he started to call Andrea ‘mom’, which was after he had come confessed to killing Ben after Ben had murdered his brother, Billy, both deaths of which happened in issue 61. He says that Rick had once told him, “ your parents love you no matter what. They can be ashamed of you or disappointed in you, and they can even not like who you are in the moment, but they always love you.” And so, in response to his confession, Andrea cries, and says that she loves Carl, and thus the beginning of their familial relationship and the ending of the scene.
I thought this story telling of Andrea and Carl’s relationship was very well done and solidified their relationship and why Carl was accepting of Rick and Andrea’s relationship- he is a teenager after all. The only complaint I have is why he had to tell Lydia. I still do not understand her character completely, or what she has to offer to the story, and every time I see a scene with her it does nothing to tell what her character has to offer. She also just recently broke up with Carl, which was the most character development she has had in some time since she was taken from the whisperers in the first place. I hope that Kirkman can make her interesting or else she will always just be an excuse for Carl’s hormones to make an appearance in my eyes.
The next scene Maggie finally confronts Rick about letting Negan go free. Rick stands his ground on his decision on letting Negan go free because he seems a lot of similarities in the way the two have handled the apocalypse itself. He states that Maggie should sleep soundly because Negan is going to be leaving to handle his own outpost.
And remember Eugene's radio? Remember when Siddiq found it when he was alone in the house? Rick knows about it now! And he’s not entirely opposed to it. Eugene tries to get Stephanie on the radio to talk to Eugene, but it proves only a little difficult when she states she only trusts Eugene on the other end. Eugene ends up convincing Stephanie and she has a conversation with Rick which eventually leads to a mutual agreement. Rick agrees to send a few of his men to Ohio on the grounds of no weapons, but if her group does not approve, they do not have to make contact. Stephanie agrees to speak to her leader about the possible meet up. Truth be told, it is hard to be excited for the new team when a girl who we presume to be Stephanie is pictured on the cover of 171 looking like she just escaped an 80’s rave, but we will see how this pans out.
Carl approaches maggie about how he wants to go back to Hilltop despite only just arriving to Alexandria because of Andrea’s death and because Hilltop needs to be rebuilt after the recent fire.
Rick then approaches Jesus about going scouting in Ohio for the new group, but Jesus confirms all suspicions about his relationship with Aaron when he tells Rick that neither of them would like to go because Aaron is his special “someone”. Personally, I think this pairing was a cheap shot just because they are now the two main gay characters because both of their boyfriends are not in the picture for one reason or another.
Much like the Maggie/Rick confrontation, after Sherry’s death in issue 167, Dwight and Rick had not discussed Sherry’s death in a detailed manner up until issue 169 when Rick tries to convince him to go to Ohio. As can be expected, Dwight has bitter feelings towards Rick despite Rick telling him it was self defense. Dwight tells him that it would be best if Rick stayed to hold down the fort in Alexandria. What I found interesting about Dwight’s reasoning is that for the past couple years, I have been saying the same thing- Rick acts too impulsively, and it ends up hurting people.
The fact of the matter is, the conversation between Dwight and Rick is intense in a way that makes me wonder who is right and who is wrong. On one hand, you have Dwight, who has had his wife killed and can see through Rick’s impulsive ways, and even references them to just the issue before when Rick tried to start confrontation with the Saviors who had gone rogue.
Then you have Rick, who the audience knows as the main character and we are suppose to root for, who has built communities from shambles and has worked to gather more alliances, and who somehow always manages to win in the end. As much as I love Negan and believe he changed his ways, it does make me question whether letting Negan leave his cell was another impulse decision, and if the group is just one more.
Michonne confronts Rick in front of Andrea’s headstone about needing people to go to Ohio, and despite Rick telling her to stay, she insists on leaving. She mentions that Rick has Jesus and, of all people, Dwight in Alexandria to keep control, and Rick agrees to let her leave. Carl then shows up, and explains to Rick because (or in spite of) the good memories Alexandria holds, he wants to go to Hilltop and have his own life. Surprisingly, Rick does not argue, and allows him to go on his own.Something about everyone leaving Rick and the mention of Dwight gives me an odd sense of foreshadowing conflict.
And finally, everyone is leaving. Negan leaves to go to his outpost, which he says is in the neighborhood around where he buried his baseball bat. Maggie and the Hilltop gang head to rebuild their home, and Michonne, Eugene, Magna, and Siddiq head out for Ohio, and Dante is sent by Maggie to keep an eye on Negan.
Overall, I felt this issue was a filler, but one that also moved the plot along. It set up all the locations for the characters, as well as curiosity and doubt for where the road may lead. I am interested to find out what all the characters are planning, because with all of the conflict brewing between former allies it makes me question just how much longer until we finally reach the breaking point.
Issue 170 is called On the Road, and the cover shows the team headed towards Ohio, and is set to be released on August 2nd.