Caution: This post is only for those people who are current with the comic series. This post does not have any relation to the AMC TV series and should be vigorously avoided at all costs unless you have read all 100 issues of the comic. Have I made myself clear? Seriously… I am going to be posting spoilers left and right.
Last chance… warning, warning, warning… spoilers aplenty ahead.
Yesterday The Walking Dead achieved a major milestone… Issue 100. Considering that this is a comic series that has been penned by one author, Robert Kirkman, and two artists, Charlie Adlard for 94 issues, and Tony Moore for the first six issues, this is a monumental achievement. What is even more spectacular is that this issue, and the storyline it has been continuing, may have been the shot in the arm the series has needed for a while, we now have a new villain we can all love to hate.
Since the demise of The Governor back around issue #48, there hasn’t been any one individual that you could call a villain. Sure the zombies are a constant threat… but recently our group has learned how to effectively deal with them. There was a story arc regarding some hunters who turned out to be cannibals… but Rick and Co. took care of them post haste. Same could be said for any threat they have encountered both inside and outside the Community. Basically, our group of intrepid survivors have become such hardened bad-asses that it was beginning to feel like perhaps they were becoming the bad guys since no one, or thing, could seem to inflict enough damage to give us the readers any real cause for concern or fear… until now.
Beginning with issue #97, we began the story arc titled, “Something to Fear”. Honestly, it seemed a bit hollow to me. I just couldn’t imagine anything really giving us, or our heroes, something to genuinely fear. Once Rick reached the Hilltop and found out about Negen and his Saviors, we at least had a name… but the actions by these so called Saviors have been lacking. Rick, Michonne, and Andrea have essentially cut through these assholes like a hot knife through melting butter. Sure they took out Abraham with a bolt through the back of the skull, and that was upsetting to say the least, but lets face it… they took him out from behind with no warning. Not the actions of a confident killer.
Issue #99 dealt with the fallout of Abraham’s death and Rick’s plan to head to the Hilltop in order to warn them and to get assistance for dealing with this new threat… even though Rick had set up a deal with Hilltop to take out Negen and his band of merry pricksters. Rick’s confidence seemed shaken, and the stage was set for what Kirkman continually told us would be the most gruesome and bloody issue ever. Most deaths in the series have been telegraphed in one way or another… usually by someone becoming happy or content. Once that happens… BAM, you’re dead.
Rick and Andrea have finally hooked up and seem to be happy. Maggie finally became pregnant and she and Glenn were going to move to the Hilltop in order to raise their family in relative peace. Dr. Cloyd and Heath had a lovely breakfast where the good Dr. stated that everything would be alright, she just wanted to spend some more time with Heath. Rosita and Holly finally confronted one another and came to an understanding regarding Abraham. Carl appeared pleased to see his father and Andrea together. Aaron and Eric have been pleased as punch to never have to leave the community again. And as a final kick in the groin, the beginning of issue 100 has Rick finally thanking Michonne for everything she has done for him, and him for her, and Spencer being happy for Andrea’s new-found love.
Kirkman left no stone unturned in his misdirection and setting everyone up for a potential brutal death… which inevitably led us fans to scramble to figure out who would end up dead in this issue. I even found a website putting odds on who would die. Kirkman also recently talked about how he does his best to avoid doing what people expect. At the end of issue 99, we see Rick, Carl, Heath, Michonne, Glenn, Maggie, and Sophia all pile into a van in order to head out to the Hilltop. Andrea is left to defend the community and we see some of the Saviors looking on as the van pulls away. Obviously, they are going to wipe out the community and the story would continue with everyone in the van. I was prepared for Andrea’s death… and she has always been either my favorite or second favorite character. It was a difficult thing to deal with.
Well… leave it to Robert Kirkman to accurately anticipate what we were expecting. Instead of attacking the community, Negen and his men attack the van. After pulling Rick off of the van and getting everyone on their knees we are introduced to Negen. Holy shit… this guy is bad. This guy is scary. This guy is something to fear.
At no point in the series have I ever felt the tension I felt as Negen laid out the new law. He let’s us know that he is pissed about his men being killed and that our group will not go unpunished, and if anyone tries anything funny, he has a list of threats that would make the bravest of men piss their pants (he even says that Rick may start pissing his pants). If any one of them moves, he threatens to rip out Carl’s eye and feed it to Sophia. Negen is one fucked up dude.
The tension ratchets up as he introduces us to Lucille, he large wooden baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. He explains, very calm collected, that he will kill one of our group… but who? He moves down the line, and acting as a fan of the series, becomes the stand in for what we all believe… Rick is basically indestructible, Carl is a future serial killer whose story is too interesting to end, can’t kill Maggie, she’s too hot, he won’t kill Glenn or Heath, doesn’t want to be seen as a racist, and he would rather do other things to Michonne well before killing her (nice call back to The Governor there). In the end, his decision is based on playing eenie-meenie-mynie-moe (sp?)… and Glenn is it.
Glenn has always been a fan favorite for a number of reasons. First, he is our longest lived survivor second only to Rick. He appeared in issue two and has been a constant character throughout. The kind, gentle member of the group who managed to find love, get married, adopt an orphaned girl, and soon to become a father. All signs had been pointing to Glenn leading up to this issue, but Kirkman did his best to deflect our beliefs in this inevitability. Although the fact of his death wasn’t necessarily shocking, the manner in which it happened certainly was.
After Negen brings the bat down on Glenn’s head, his skull is cracked and his left eye has popped from its’ socket. This is the point where you realize what an incredible villain Negen truly is. He is calm, sadistic, cruel, and blood thirsty. He makes a couple of cracks about how gross Glenn looks as he tries to scream one last word… Maggie. After this final scream Negen lays into his jaw and from there beats Glenn’s head to the point of pure hamburger.
The images are disturbing and completely disgusting. I was going to post the pic here in this post like I did in my review of issues #83 and 84 with Carl’s face being shot off, but honestly, I find them to be far too upsetting and repulsive. All day yesterday, I found myself upset and bothered by his death. I sought solace online and through the community of fans on The Walking Deadcast’s Facebook page. There we commiserated and grieved in one way or another. For some, the idea of going online and hearing anything other than remorse was just too much. Glenn was a beloved character whose storyline was becoming a bit dried up… but many of us were hoping for at least one happy ending in this horribly bleak and depressing series, and Glenn was the only person for whom that could even be a possibility. Glenn represented what we as fans of the genre probably hoped we could be… the decent guy who retains his decency in the face of the unthinkable. None of us would wish to be Rick… but Glenn?
So what does this mean to the overall direction of The Walking Dead? In my opinion, this is the best thing that has happened in the series in quite a while. Don’t get me wrong… I am not at all happy about Glenn’s death and I’m even less happy with the brutal way it happened, but I am happy to finally have a baddie we can all agree must die. The Governor was a villain everyone could get behind. He was also sadistic, cruel, vicious, and charismatic… he approached with a smile while simultaneously chopping Rick’s right hand off… he raped and brutally beat Michonne… he fucked with Glenn’s head in a way that can only be described and evil… and in the end, he blew away almost everyone in the prison including Lori and Judith. My only complaint about the death of The Governor was that it didn’t come at Rick’s hand (his left one at least).
In Negen we now have someone we can hate. Something we can fear. I don’t have any sense of security for any of our heroes. Their future is completely unclear. Will the Hilltop rise to their aid? I doubt it. Will the community band together as it did against the undead when Rick finally decided to take them on? Perhaps. My hope is that the answer does not come quickly. I hope Negen becomes, not just another group of skinny rapists on the road… not another group of cannibals… not just a bad-ass with a posse… but a true existential threat. A threat to everything our group has built… a threat to the series itself.
Although I’m confident at least some of our heroes will survive when all is done and said, my hope is that it doesn’t come easy. My hope is that the tension on display in issue #100 continues and Kirkman and Adlard can continue with another 100 issues.
On that note… RIP Glenn (he never even got a last name)… RIP Abraham Ford… and congrats to Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Sina Grace, and everyone at Image Comics. Although I now can’t help but consider Kirkman to be a heartless sick bastard, I’m still grateful for the experience he has given all of us. Thank you.
Why was his last word my daughter’s name?
Cornelius J. Blahg