Story by: Robert Kirkman
Art and Lettering by: Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, and Cliff Rathburn
Aaron is alive! Michonne proves to Beta she’s a force to be reckoned with. Dwight shows his leadership prowess, while Rick continues to dig himself deeper into a hole. We get to see a bit of the Negan and Alpha love connection. Some of the dialogue is a bit weak (especially with Alpha) in this issue, but the comic still remains enjoyable. The story moves us closer and closer to the Whisper War on the horizon for issue 157.
The issue picks up right where 154 left off—with Michonne kicking some zombie and Whisperer butt. Aaron is—barely—still alive, and Michonne is fighting to keep it that way. Dwight and co. swoop in to help, and he realizes that retrieving Negan would further violate the treaty. As he notes, by crossing the border, they’ve engaged in an act of war, as the title of the issue—“Tip of the Spear”—suggests. I’ve enjoyed the evolution of Dwight’s character. He’s one to think things through before acting, unlike many of the others. Even though Michonne asks him to follow after Beta when he runs off, Dwight knows it’d make the situation worse. He’s smart and precise in order to determine the best course of action. His strength is an interesting juxtaposition to Rick, who’s usually quick to act, even when lives are at stake.
Andrea notes to Rick that he sounds like Negan when he tells her he’s manipulating his people for their own good. Although he’s a bit taken back, he seems aware of the parallel. He’s purposely directing his people’s anger away from him to the Whisperers. Perhaps this is smart; however, it seems more to do with Rick’s insecurity as a leader. He doesn’t want his people to see how weak he’s become. I don’t think he really believes he’s become a strong leader; I think he’s just found a way to divert the attention from him, so he’s not entirely to blame when people die. To him, now people are making their own choices.
Negan’s conversation with Alpha is a highlight of the issue. We get the usual cocky, sarcastic one-liners from Negan, but Alpha’s dialogue is a bit uncharacteristic for her. Based on Kirkman’s writing of her thus far, I’d think she wouldn’t give Negan the time of day. Based on the last panel in issue 154, she showed her authority and position at the onset. But, in this issue, she listens to him blabber on and even asks him questions about his past. She does put him in his place at one point, punching him in the face when he tries to kiss her, but when Beta comes to her aid, she says Negan is just being annoying. This seems unusual for the woman who slaughtered several people and put their heads on spikes as a warning. Maybe Alpha is playing him, trying to see if he can be of use, but I hope in the issues to come she doesn’t become the one being played. I can see them both playing each other. Who will win?
We get lots of awesome action scenes this issue. I particularly like—and find sort of funny—the giant BRAKKA! BRAKKA! BRAKKA! lettering to signify gunfire. Adlard does have a knack for variety—always giving the reader a plethora of shots. I also like his use of negative space, particularly when a character—like Rick—is speechless. Adding a background would remove the scene’s significance and make it too busy. Adlard expertly keeps the focus right on the character.
Although I enjoy seeing Dwight featured on the cover, it’s not one of my favorites. The burnt colors of fall seem to muddle the image together, but perhaps that’s what Adlard was going for. The characters are camouflaged in the woods, and the Whisperers will never see them coming.
This was a solid issue that mostly moves the story forward toward the Whisperer War in issue 157. The dynamic between Alpha and Negan is interesting—and a tad disappointing—but I do want to see more. Negan’s commentary shines again, and it’s good to see more of Dwight. We didn’t see Eugene in this issue, but it’ll be interesting to see the part his mystery girl, Stephanie, plays in the war, if anything.