WARNING: Super Spoilers lie ahead. If you do not wish to know what happens in the current storyline of the comic series The Walking Dead, do not read further. Thanks for stopping by, please come again. Also, I put a rather graphic image (comic) in the body of this post… just letting you know.
I have already posted one ‘Bookshelf’ for The Walking Dead back in December of last year, but felt the need to chat a bit about the recent happenings in this stellar long running comic series. In that previous post I brought up how I came to begin reading TWD as well as mine and Mrs. Blahg’s anticipation for issue #80 to be released the following day (it ended up being delayed a week or two, I was a wreck).
Issue #80 kicked off a five part series, ‘No Way Out’, that found our survivors having the foundation of security they had come to rely on come crashing down as zombies poured into a breach in their perimeter wall. One of the main reasons we were so excited to begin reading ‘No Way Out’ is that the story had begun to feel a bit too comfortable and soap operaesque with everyone comfy in this community and a very conspicuous absence of roamers… not to mention some rather erratic and odd behavior from Rick and others. With ‘No Way Out’ we began to rack up the undead body count again… and even though we know Kirkman has said many times that no one is safe, not even Rick… it’s difficult to image TWD without him.
I’ve heard some suppositions regarding the direction the story will take… such as Rick will die and Carl will take the lead. I’ve been somewhat prepared for something like that to happen. The cover for issue #81 suggested Glenn might die, fortunately that didn’t happen… but he did say he doesn’t believe he will survive this in issue #82. Morgan gets bit… his arm chopped off… and lays dying in bed with Carl watching over him. Everything is falling apart… but I don’t think I was prepared for issue #83.
In part four of ‘No Way Out’ we begin with Morgan’s death and Rick’s plan to ditch everyone and make a run for the gate covered in zombie guts while towing Carl, Jessie and Ron. After a debate or two Rick leads everyone into the sea of zombies and Ron immediately freaks out, drawing attention to himself and of course… chomp! Jessie won’t let go of her son’s hand… chomp! Unfortunately, she won’t let go of Carl’s hand either… so Rick does the only thing he can do… chop, chop, chop goes his hatchet… drop, drop, drop goes her hand. Totally brutal.
While all of this is going on we see the whereabouts of everyone else in the group. Maggie is with Sophia, Glenn and Andrea are outside the walls looking in, Samuel and Rosita are hiding together in a house… as is Eric and Aaron, the priest and fibbing science teacher (can’t remember their names right now… oops) are taking sanctuary in the church and Douglas is considering shooting himself in the head. But no… he decides to help and starts blasting his gun all around as Rick screams for him to stop shooting and eventually… chomp! Below is the result of his shooting…
Devastating! When I turned the page (electronic page… but whatever) I was gobsmacked… completely stunned and bothered. Within a few frames we find he is still alive (whew)… although, looking at that picture… how? Rick picks him up and manages to get him to the doctor while pleading for her to save his life. End.
(quick side note… Robert Kirkman tweeted the morning this issue was released saying that he thinks this has the happiest ending of any TWD issue. Twisted)
I had to wait a month to discover the eventual fate of Carl… of Rick… of the entire community as everything looked about as bleak as could be. For days I honestly felt saddened. Everything Rick fought for… gone. Then I had a fantastic revelation… I was genuinely moved… by a comic book. Bothered by a ridiculous fantasy/horror story. And found myself going back to Book one and starting it all over again.
By the time I finished reading the whole series again, paying extra special attention to Carl and his development and thinking about what the series will be without him, issue #84 arrived. As the doctor works on staunching the bleeding Rick head outside to keep the room clear. Armed with his hatchet and the desire to save the life of his son Rick goes off… chopping, kicking, knocking every undead corpse every which way. Michonne sees… joins in. Samuel and Rosita see… join in. Eventually, everyone is joining Rick in tearing through this previously thought impenetrable wall of zombie. It is a fast read, populated with frame after frame of roamer death and human kick-assery… by far the most we have seen in a long time, if not ever.
By the end… the roamers that have kept the community under siege are dispatched with and Rick has had an epiphany… the zombies are manageable. It’s the humans that have always been the problem (duh… why wasn’t he keeping up with his TWD?). He can now see plans for the community… he now sees the one thing he hasn’t seen in a long time… hope.
From the pits of despair, like the proverbial phoenix, Rick and the series rises again. Carl is still alive (for now at least) and everyone is safe(ish) again. Brilliant. I was about as pleased with this latest issue as I was distraught after reading the previous. I can’t wait to see what Kirkman has in store for his next story arc.
Cornelius J. Blahg