WARNING: This article contains spoilers through Call to Arms, Volume 26 (issues 151-156) of The Walking Dead comics.
While I have some minor complaints about Call to Arms (The Walking Dead Volume 26), overall it was far superior to the previous volume…possibly because it left me questioning my prior opinions of two very important characters.
My biggest gripe about Call to Arms is where it picked up in the general story line. I completely understand that the beginning wouldn’t have been so jarring if I read the issues month to month, but I’m sure I’m not the only person who waits for the volumes and was a bit put off by the fact that this one simply started with a group of people shooting down walkers. And it wasn’t just the fact that the scene seemed yanked out of the blue – it also went on for far too many panels.
And once their little walker killing spree was over, it wasn’t just Dwight getting on my nerves, it was Rick, too. Call to Arms was chock full of preparations for a war with the Whisperers, yet it seemed like everywhere our main characters turned, they made a misstep. Dwight is frustrating because of his constant insistence about not wanting to be a leader when that’s the mantle he needs to put on; Rick got annoying because despite admitting that he isn’t the leader his people need right now, he merely suggested that Dwight take on some tasks and then continued to dig himself deeper and deeper into a hole.
Sure, Rick has made plenty of crappy decisions in the previous 150 issues of The Walking Dead, but I’ve remained a Rick Grimes fan through them all. Only now, with Call to Arms, am I finally finding myself wondering how much longer he can possibly last. Not only that – and trust me, I can’t believe I’m saying this – I’m suddenly rooting for Negan.
Yes, I know this is a thing that a lot of people do (root for Negan, I mean), but hey, I’m a “flawed hero” fangirl. I suppose I have one toe (okay, maybe a foot?) in the antihero fan camp, but Negan was always too villainous for me; sorry not sorry, prior to this volume I’ve felt nothing but contempt for him. I’m not sure I was ever happier with the TWD comics than when Negan was finally defeated…and yeah, I was frustrated that Rick kept him alive at all, let alone for this long.
But I have to admit that Negan is the real star of Call to Arms (I’ll explain why very soon, I promise). Andrea has some great moments as well, but they’re few and far between (another minor complaint I have about this volume, simply because I love Andrea and always want to see more of her). And yeah, it’s great that Michonne is probably coming back to lead The Kingdom, and I’m glad Maggie and her people safely returned to The Hilltop…but to be honest, Carl and Lydia still creep me out
a bit a lot.
Other than that, most of Call to Arms focuses on some pretty questionable scenarios, the first being Rick painting propaganda on the walls in Alexandria and allowing far too many people to carry guns around. On top of that, he actually thought it was okay to approach Brandon (whose father he recently killed), and do so *alone*, at that! Seriously, where is the Rick Grimes who survived this long? Do I need to start a “Not My Rick” hashtag? Needless to say, I hope that now that Andrea is back, she can knock some sense into him. (Thankfully she’s already trying to do so.)
Additionally, I can’t be the only one who thinks that Eugene is being an idiot. Unless they’re repeating the whole telephone thing that Rick went through right after Lori died (which is stupid enough on its own), Eugene has basically told their entire story to some stranger he met over a radio – someone who is clearly not giving up anywhere near that much information about her situation (pardon the rhyme). And while I could be wrong, I really only see this going two ways – she (and her people, if she has any) turn out to actually be friendly, or the writers are already setting up the next Big Bad. Considering what’s going on with the Whisperers, I’m going to theorize that it’s the latter, in which case…well. I don’t even know if that’s the least obnoxious of those three possibilities.
Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t trust Negan. I mean, it’s not like we really know his reasoning behind joining up with the Whisperers and then killing Alpha (after spending several pages hitting on her, mind you). Still, I have to admit that I breathed a sigh of relief when he got rid of Brandon, who was an annoying character overall and honestly didn’t need to keep being so prominent when he’d already attacked Carl with a brick. I also enjoyed the pages of Call to Arms that featured Negan working his way into the Whisperers’ group. I’m not sure if I’m happy that he killed Alpha or if I actually wish that his recent words and actions had actually been sincere. That said, there’s always the possibility that he was being at least somewhat honest…until he saw that the Whisperers allowed their people to rape each other. All I know is, I can’t wait to find out more about Negan’s choices and reasoning…though I have a feeling that story will be drawn out.
And besides, no way is Negan killing Alpha going to be completely *good* for Rick & Co.
What did you think of Volume 26? Do you agree that the issues featured in Call to Arms ended up balancing out pretty well, despite a rough beginning? Let us know in the comments!
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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