The Walking Dead 128
Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, and Cliff Rathburn
Published by Image Comics
After last issue, it’s inevitable that Walking Dead 128 will feel a bit slower in comparison. This is an issue that’s mostly devoted to exposition and developing the setting, which means that there isn’t a whole lot of action either. Robert Kirkman is a subtle writer, however, and a close reading of this comic shows how he has continued to tinker with the formula of this comic book over time.
The comic picks up directly where the last book ended with Carl still talking to Negan. We then see further glimpses of the community that Rick has built and some of the underlying tensions, such as those between Eugene and Rosita. A couple of survivors try to round up stray horses and it fails spectacularly, thought without fatal consequences. Magna gives her account of how her group survived for so long, and Rick agrees to take Carl to Hilltop to begin an apprenticeship. All of this sounds like a filler issue, except for the comic’s ending. Magna and her small group are talking about Alexandria, and Magna claims that when something is too good to be true, it usually is. She’s determined to find whatever secrets Alexandria is holding.
What’s happened here is a role inversion. Historically, Rick and his group have shown up in a new place, felt as though something is wrong with the people or the way things are run, and conflict has resulted. Rick has been a force for good and a force for unrest, but he has always been the unstable element in otherwise stable equations. Magna has now fallen into this role, and we as readers know that there are secrets that are going to be uncovered. One of those secrets is sitting in a cell, waiting to be uncovered and find somebody that doesn’t just want to kill him. There are still lots of things that we don’t know about Alexandria, given the time that has elapsed. Will the new survivors be the same agent of change that Rick used to be? And now that Rick and his vision of this society is the new status quo, how will he react to these outsiders asking questions and poking around?
There are also questions about just how much society is left outside of the District of Columbia. Magna mentions that her group left a secured spot in Richmond, but there’s no indication as yet that it’s wholly destroyed. This suggests a broader world out there for the survivors to discover of similar communities. Whether or not they’re friendly, there’s a lot more to uncover about the world of the Walking Dead.