Previously in The Walking Dead: Well … actually the previous issue came out only 2 weeks ago. Since Skybound gave us a February favor by releasing two issues in one month, you should be able to remember the events of 163. If you can’t, feel free to read my full review here: The Walking Dead 163 Review, and do some Sudoku while you’re at it so your brain doesn’t deteriorate any further.
In issue 164, a bunch of people talked to each other. Now, you might say that reading about people talking sounds pretty boring, especially by comic book standards. If you did think this, you would be terribly, TERRIBLY wrong my friend. What this issue lacked in gruesome deaths, violence, aggression, and sex, it more than made up for with character development and plot advancement that rivals any of the last 50 issues of The Walking Dead.
Friends are made.
As the issue opens, Negan and Rick continue to pull away from the herd that smashed down Alexandria’s gate. Looking for safety, they bust into an empty building, and though Negan thought about shutting Rick out to be torn apart by the dead, they sneak in together. What ensues is the oddest game of “Truth or Dare” played by the strangest players since the game was devised. As they discuss their post-apocalyptic lives, Kirkman provides a window into the motivations of two very different men.
Rick and Negan figured out quickly they were strong. What differed was their feelings about the weak. Rick would care for and teach them how to contribute and build strength. Negan would enslave the weak after a sacrifice and giving them protection. Negan could (and still can) differentiate strong from weak. He can smell it, and the stench emanates from many who remain in Rick’s group.
Lines are drawn.
The theme of strong versus weak/ us versus them continues in the middle of the book in a conversation between Eugene, a man whose stock has risen through the series, and Heath, a man that has seen a decline in status following the loss of his leg. Eugene says a line so profound, it must be quoted directly:
“… I’ve been surrounded by the Ricks and Andreas of the world for so long, you just can’t help but feel … useless.”
Even with all that Eugene has accomplished, from building bullets to impregnating Rosita to talking to people in Ohio via short-wave radio, he still acknowledges that he is not a top-tier survivor. It seems that if you are not Rick, Carl, Michonne, Maggie, Jesus, or Negan, you do NOT count.
A new leader emerges.
Sure. It is a brief glimpse at the end of the issues, but that is the very spot Kirkman saves for the biggest moments. And what do we have here? None other than a young Mr. Carl Grimes standing atop a wagon giving an impassioned speech to those Hilltop residents lucky enough to make it out alive. He is imploring them to move forward and help those in Alexandria that need their assistance. Though not shown, it seems very likely that his pleas will be successful in two ways: getting the Hilltoppers to rescue and Alexandrians and getting Lydia to lick his socket. Did someone say win-win.
All the while, old cyclops from the Sanctuary continues to spy on the heroes and plot an attack. Whatta douche. Whatta a great issue.
Consume.Review.Repeat. gives The Walking Dead 164 8.8 truth or dares out of 10.