This is an odd volume in the series in that it’s as upbeat as this title ever gets. With the Whisperer War and Savior threat behind them, the residents of Alexandrea and Hilltop set their sights on rebuilding. There are signs of discontent, Dwight is still angry at Rick for killing his ex in self-defense while Maggie is not happy with the idea of Negan being set free, but with the bad stuff behind everyone the series is free to focus on hope for a change. Which is good because, as the series has demonstrated in the past, nothing good comes from focusing on doom and gloom all the time. Besides, I’m sure Kirkman and Adlard are saving that for the next volume when Michonne and Eugene’s group finally comes face-to-face with the community that the latter has been talking with for the past few volumes.
“Lines we Cross” is also notable for its introduction of a new character, Juanita “Princess” Sanchez. That’s her on the cover, in case it wasn’t obvious. She’s a lively chatterbox who rubs Michonne the wrong way, but in a friendly, amusing manner. So far Princess is memorable for how lively she comes across in comparison to the rest of the cast as opposed to bringing anything interesting to the overall plot. That could very easily change and her oddball nature does contrast well with the group she’s currently interacting with, so that’s a plus.
Then we get to the final issue which is the Negan spotlight that I’ve been waiting to read ever since it was solicited with the admonishment “This is what he deserves.” It very much draws a line under the character’s arc up to this point as he struggles with living in solitude. With only his memories of Lucille to comfort him, Negan prepares to fall back into bad habits… only for Maggie to show up with the intent of settling things once and for all. Even if his trademark braggadocio is still present, the Negan we see here is a humbled, changed man compared to the charismatic psychopath we first met twelve volumes ago. It’s honestly kind of remarkable that the creators have taken the character to this point while making his journey feel utterly credible. Even if this is the last we see of Negan in this series, it’s still a hell of a note for him to go out on.