In issue #104, Carl stowed away on Negan’s supply truck, and then once they had arrived at the Saviors’ base, in issue #105, he came out firing, taking out several of the Saviors with Abraham’s assault rifle. Rather than being upset, the twisted Negan is strangely amused, taking Carl on a tour of his facility… after forcing him to remove his head bandages, used to conceal his missing eye, in a form of humiliation. He then learned that Carl kept a harem of women who essentially live the best out of all of the members of this settlement. But after Negan discovers that one of his “brides,” Amber cheated on him with her former lover Mark, he has the man branded in the face. (Something similar apparently happened to Dwight in the past, explaining his scarring.)
Afterward, Carl asks if he can put his bandages back on, but Negan refuses. Despite Negan’s clear unbalanced nature, Carl keeps up his brave front, which seems to only drive Negan to come up with an especially gruesome punishment for him. Unfortunately, this is the last we see of Carl this issue. Could Negan really be so twisted as to inflict harm upon a child? Or does Negan sense that Carl really isn’t a child anymore, having become even more hardened by this world than most of the adults?
Jesus makes good his escape, while Rick and several of his allies are out searching for Carl, without having a clue where Negan’s base is. They are swarmed by zombies and things don’t look good. Later in the issue, we see Negan headed toward Alexandria, with an ominous message for Rick.
Back at Alexandria, Spencer– remember him? The old Mayor’s son that dated Andrea?– is wondering why they are still following Rick and balks at the idea that one boy is worth all this effort and so many resources, when they should be fortifying their settlement. Aaron and Eric– remember them? The scouts for Alexandria? The gay couple?– debate their best course of action, with Aaron still devoted to Rick, but with Eric wondering if they might be better off out on their own. These are characters who I don’t think have even appeared on-panel in months if not more than a year. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) It’s curious that they are suddenly given this focus. Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but I doubt these with be among the living for very long. I feel that maybe they are being given some development so that when they die, it will resonate with readers more than they would at t his point, when they are all but forgotten.
It’s hard to call anything at this point a “filler” issue, but this comes close. There are no big reveals. No deaths. Some character interludes. The stakes are too high for it to be a filler, though. The tension between Negan and Carl is pretty intense and you are sort of on the seat of your pants, wanting to know what could possibly happen in a confontation between a battle-scarred child and this physically powerful, mentally unbalanced tyrant. That was the focus of this issue, but almost all the other bits, although some were seemingly random, were still nice and added to the overall story.
THE WALKING DEAD #106
Written by Robert Kirkman
Art and Cover by Charlie Adlard