The Walking Dead #149 (Review)
Story by: Robert Kirkman
Art and Lettering by: Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, and Cliff Rathburn
Well, Kirkman and his team pulled a bit of a bait and switch on us. Although this issue is jam-packed with many pieces of a very large puzzle, it’s not as epic as we would’ve hoped for. It’s not immediately clear how important each piece will be or the role they’ll all play in the end. But The Walking Dead team is still building up to something momentous, because Rick has a plan for the Whisperers: form a military and prepare for war.
The title “The Devil on Your Shoulder” fits the cover and issue perfectly. Negan stands behind Rick, grinning widely as he grips his shoulder. The lighting, shadows, and dark colors symbolize the foreboding tone of what’s to come. Negan is the mastermind behind Rick’s plan, and he’s proud of it. Of course, Rick doesn’t release Negan in this issue, which is a smart move on Rick’s part, but it’s still somewhat of a letdown. However, the dialogue between Negan and Rick is great. Negan has some solid advice for Rick, and, for once, you get to see who he really is. As Negan says to Rick, “Nestle in below me so I can baby bird my wisdom into that pretty mouth of yours.” Yes, he bashed “some nice Asian kid’s brains in just to maintain the status quo,” but he did everything to keep his people safe, and Rick can relate to that. Is Negan manipulating Rick? Probably. Maybe he thinks there’s no way in hell Rick can win an attack against the Whisperers. Knowing Negan, it’s likely he just wants conflict because it’s his best chance to get free, and he knows Rick will do anything for his people.
The discussion between Negan and Rick is the best part of the issue, while the rest of the story feels a bit disjointed and busy as it flip-flops between several characters’ dialogues—Dwight and Laura, Carl and Lydia, Maggie and Brianna, and Vincent and Julia. Interestingly, these all have a central theme: overthrowing Rick. Laura pressures Dwight to be the rightful leader of the Saviors.
Lydia tells Carl that he’s “already better” than his dad. Brianna senses something bad is going to happen and wants to leave. Vincent is filled with anger and hatred over the death of his son and blames Rick. All these pieces show the tension building in the camps and could foreshadow the betrayal referenced in issue 150’s title.
As always, Charlie Adlard’s artwork is spot-on, especially when it comes to Negan’s facial expressions. The best shot is the very last page—with Dwight holding Lucille. He looks conflicted, as he stares at Negan’s cherished weapon. Is he going to lead the Saviors? It’s clear he’s contemplating it, but it’s doubtful he’ll lead like Negan.
Although this month’s issue is a bit disorganized, it’s building up to something massive. We get a lot of great Neganisms, and Negan helps Rick form a plan. In the issues to come, we’ll see just how good that plan is. Will Rick be able to gain his people’s trust back? We’ll find out soon.