The Walking Dead is reportedly casting two key figures from the comic books ahead of season 9, which could pave the way for the debut of new enemies, The Whisperers. In The Walking Dead's season 8 finale, Rick Grimes finally managed to defeat Negan with a sneaky slit of the throat, but ultimately decided to spare the life of his nemesis and force him to watch Alexandria grow into a blossoming community from the confines of a jail cell. This is more or less exactly how events play out in the comic books and soon after Negan's defeat, a new bunch of baddies called The Whisperers arrive on the scene.
The arrival of The Whisperers is preceded by the introduction of Magna and her group of survivors. Taking place immediately after the comic's time-skip, Magna's people are surviving in the wild and find themselves in some zombie-related peril, when they are rescued by members of a large community network - the alliance of Alexandria, The Hilltop, The Kingdom, Oceanside and The Sanctuary. Magna is taken to meet the group's leader, Rick, and in an interesting reversal of roles, finds herself unsure about whether to trust her new host.
It now appears that AMC's The Walking Dead will be following a somewhat similar pattern as TVLine is reporting that the show is casting for Magna and a key member of her group, Yumiko, ahead of season 9. Both headstrong survivors and handy in a fight, Magna and Yumiko are romantically involved and despite their initial mistrust of Rick, soon become key protagonists in the comic series.
With The Walking Dead following its source material closely towards the end of season 8 and in the set-up to season 9, the casting of Magna and Yumiko seems like strong confirmation that viewers will see a time-skip when the show returns. The news also heavily suggests that the next big arc following last season's "All Out War" will indeed be "The Whisperer War," which will come as a relief to the many fans who were disappointed at the season 8 finale's tease that Rick could clash with Maggie, Daryl and, for reasons unknown, Jesus.
Interestingly however, the report does not contain any mention of a casting call for the leader of The Whisperers, Alpha. Although this could be interpreted as a sign that The Walking Dead will indeed pit Rick against his former allies at the start of season 9, it's perhaps more likely to be an indication the Alpha is actually already in the show. Both Jadis and Fear The Walking Dead's Madison have been rumored to become Rick's future adversary and the lack of casting news for Alpha at present would seem to support this theory.
The Walking Dead season 9 is set to premiere later this year.