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Issue 157 is the one-hundred and fifty-seventh issue of Image Comics' The Walking Dead and the first part of Volume 27: The Whisperer War. It was published on August 3rd, 2016.

Plot

The survivors have set up checkpoints that different subgroups guard and keep clear. A week has passed since Negan went missing. Dwight, Laura, Magna, and Heath are monitoring a checkpoint when they spot Negan, who has a bit of stubble growing on his face. Dwight wants Magna to shoot him immediately, but she refuses. When it is clear that he is unarmed and not hostile, they agree to take him back to Rick. Negan tries to grab Lucille from Dwight's back, but Dwight doesn't let him, and Negan teases him, saying "You're going to fucking give her to me."

Beta finds Alpha's headless corpse and mourns her loss. Some other Whisperers arrive and note how Negan isn't around to claim his title. Beta says he would never allow him to become the alpha, but also that he himself does not intend to claim the role. He doesn't want there to be another alpha ever—they will be guided by her words. He informs them that they will kill everyone.

Negan shows the head to Rick and Andrea, who are very hesitant to believe and trust him. Negan reassures them that he only wants trust. He says Rick's way of thinking is inspiring and tries to convince them that his time in prison has rehabilitated him. He says he could've taken several chances and attacked Rick, but he didn't. He wants to fight with him, not against him. Rick finally agrees to let Negan out of the cell, but not in a community. He will live in an outpost, alone, with only enough food and weaponry to keep him surviving, though he would not be allowed these freedoms until Rick was ready to allow it. He is going to be monitored for a long time and will fight on the front lines against the Whisperers. He will earn his freedom after the war, unless he slips up, in which case he will be immediately killed.

Rick speaks with Dwight on how this war will be different; it would not be a land war. They have the advantage in terms of firepower and strategy, unlike in the war against Negan. They would attack until the Whisperers retreat, and when that happens, they would hunt down and kill every single one. They would also need people on horseback to redirect the herd of roamers. Rick remarks that although he doesn't trust Negan, he is a great asset to have. He asks Dwight to keep an eye on Negan and Dwight agrees.

Aaron wakes up at the Hilltop with Jesus watching him; he has come to gather soldiers for the war. Alex arrives and talks of how great a couple Aaron and Jesus would be. The latter dismisses the idea, and the three share the lighthearted moment.

Maggie offers up a large number of people as soldiers. Michonne is shocked at how many there are. Carl and Lydia offer to join the army, but Michonne refuses, telling them that they may stay at the Hilltop and defend it alongside Maggie and Dante. Michonne says they aren't even sure if the Whisperers will attack, but Lydia confirms that they will because otherwise it would be a sign of weakness.

Dwight, Magna, Gabriel, and some others are discussing geographical strategies. They set themselves up within earshot of one another in case a battle ensues. Gabriel is to be stationed at a watertower where he can have miles of advantage. If he sees the enemy approaching, he is to sound a horn.

At the Kingdom, Zachary asks William why they should send any members to be soldiers. The resident is angry and says that the others have not earned their contribution. They say that Michonne should not lead because she broke Ezekiel's heart, and that he wouldn't bend to Negan and the Saviors, and he wouldn't want them to bend to Rick either.

Eugene is on the radio with Stephanie. They both wish for eventual peace in their hectic world. He reveals that they are situated outside of Washington, D.C., near the East Coast. She says he shouldn't have said that because she can't say where she is from. Eugene says that he doesn't care because he trusts her. After a brief pause, she reveals that her community is in Ohio, and remarks that she hopes he isn't evil.

Rick laments to Andrea on not being able to fight in the war. Andrea mentions how she will be spending most of her time in the bell tower, making sure nobody slips through. He asks if she agrees with him on Negan, and she says that at first she wasn't sure about his call, but she has grown to trust Rick Grimes regardless of whether or not she trusts Negan.

Dwight and his subgroup get into their position. They see a mirror flashing on the horizon, which signifies Magna's group arriving at their position.

A short time later, Gabriel arrives at his tower, pulls out his rifle, looks down the scope, and sees a huge herd of roamers and possibly Whisperers walking down a street. He is startled at their numbers. Everyone else in the join communities is waiting, and going about their business. Rick addresses the people of Alexandria who are not fighting. "We are safe" he assures them, "and we are doing everything in our power to remain safe. There is no cause for worry."

Credits

Deaths

  • None

Trivia

  • First appearance of William.
  • First appearance of Zachary.
  • Last appearance of Alpha. (Zombified)
  • Alpha appears alive on the cover, despite having died in the previous issue. This is the second time a character has appeared alive on a cover after having already died, the first being Kal, who appeared on the cover for Issue 124, despite having died in Issue 123, the third being Gabriel Stokes, who appeared on the cover for Issue 159 despite dying In Issue 158, and the fourth being Sherry who appeared on the cover of Issue 168 despite dying in Issue 166.
  • This is the first issue of The Walking Dead to be set in a 16-panel grid.
    • In the Letter Hacks, Robert Kirkman says he loves 16-panel grid comics and that he had used this format for The Irredeemable Ant-Man and random issues of Invincible.
  • Also in the Letter Hacks, Sean Mankiewicz promises that everyone featured in the last page will have drastically different lives by the end of the volume. This includes Rick, Carl, Andrea, Maggie, Michonne, Eugene, Gabriel, Aaron, Jesus, Dwight, Negan, Magna, Hershel, Dante, Lydia, Laura and William.
    • An interesting fact to note is that Gabriel ended up dying in the very next issue, which means this statement is not a confirmation that all of them will survive the current story arc at all, as it was initially believed.
  • Negan bringing Alpha's decapitated head to Rick is similar to Negan's original intended death, where Rick was suppose to bring Negan's head to Maggie.
  • This is the seventeenth issue to get a second printing.

References

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