“Calling out live on the open air. Is anybody out there?” asks a mysterious voice (Margot Bingham) coming in over the radio in the final moments of The Walking Deadd Season 9. In Season 10, radio tinkerer Eugene (Josh McDermitt) answers the call, making contact with a new faraway community at the height of the Whisperer War. The radio transmission spurs Eugene and traveling companions Ezekiel (Khary Payton), Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), and Princess (Paola Lazaro) to rendezvous with Stephanie at a train yard in Charleston, West Virginia, only to end up in an advanced civilization in Ohio : the Commonwealth.
In the comic books by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard, Eugene hears the voice for the first time in The Walking Dead #151. “This is Eugene Porter calling out live on the open air. Is anyone out there?” he asks to dead silence. Suddenly, a signal: “Read you loud and clear, Eugene Porter. Come in. Do you read us? Over.”
It’s the first time both operators encounter anyone over the airwaves. Eugene builds trust with the cautious woman on the radio, who only divulges she’s part of a group much larger than Alexandria. She tells Eugene her name is Stephanie in issue #154, and by issue #157, the operators trust each other enough to disclose their approximate locations.
After the final battle of the Whisperer War, Alexandria survives a horde of walkers unleashed by Beta. In issue #166, Siddiq discovers Eugene’s working radio and spooks Stephanie, who had threatened to cut off communication if anyone but Eugene answers. With Alexandria in ruins, Eugene convinces Stephanie to speak with community leader Rick Grimes in issue #169.
Rick negotiations a rendezvous between a small team of Alexandrians and Stephanie’s people. After weeks of back-and-forth radio transmissions with Eugene, Stephanie hopely agrees. Rick sends Eugene, Michonne, Siddiq, Yumiko, and Magna to meet Stephanie’s community, their trip taking them through Pittsburgh in issue #170.
The group travels to Ohio and arrives at the rendezvous point: a seemingly deserted train yard. In issue #175, after they’re ambushed and apprehended by white-armored troopers, Eugene’s group is told Stephanie isn’t authorized to speak on behalf of the entire Commonwealth. Eugene demands to see Stephanie, and they meet briefly in issue #176. After Deputy Governor Lance Hornsby reprimands Stephanie for unauthorized radio usage, Commonwealth Governor Pamela Milton reveals Stephanie violated protocol by not alerting the authorities about her contact with outsiders.
Eventually, Eugene and Stephanie’s relationship turns romantic despite escalating tensions between the residents of Alexandria and Commonwealth. The couple teams for Eugene’s pet project: bring the two communities together by repairing an abandoned railroad track.
Stephanie appears for the last time in #192, the penultimate issue of the series. In the final issue of The Walking DeadEugene reveals Stephanie died from an undisclosed cause sometime during a 25-year time jump between issues #192 and #193.
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