The main acts over at the Big Two were Scott Snyder’s Batman #5 (DC) and Brian Michael Bendis’s Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (Marvel) featuring the Thing in a role he was meant to fill since 1961, but we all know that the best current comic is published by Image Comics so it is not surprising to find out that Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead #147 was the best comic of the week.
- The Walking Dead #147 (Image Comics), Unspoiled Edition
The Walking Dead is the most important comic series of the Willennium, and this issue finds Rick Grimes and company reeling from perhaps their greatest tragedy yet (see TWD #144). (They happen approximately every 48 issues, but I’m never ready!) Many of the survivors are no longer deserving of that name, and their loved ones, overcome with rage, are demanding a sacrifice. Robert Kirkman proves that the sublime exists nascent in the mundane by delivering to a crowd of geeks who love large breasts and muscles (us, Geekdom, comic book lovers) a subtle conversation in a kitchen that will likely make you cry.
- The Walking Dead #147 (Image Comics), Spoiled Edition
I once spent a couple of days analyzing The Walking Dead #1 and I realized that with Robert Kirkman form is everything. Issue #147 takes the form of a triptych painting with leaves representing the past issue (Eugene’s desire to us Lydia as a hostage rather than a guest) and the next issue (Lydia drawing a gun on Andrea as they escape to the Hilltop), The centerpiece of the issue is a conversation between Rick and Michonne that was really touching.
Michonne is introduced in this issue as an apparent threat to young Lydia’s life as she stealthily invades Rick’s home, kitana drawn.
It would make sense for Michonne to want revenge. When Lydia’s mother Alpha, as they call her among the Whisperers, had members of Alexandria killed, Eugene wasn’t the only one who lost someone.
Michonne lost her beloved Ezekiel. Yet, when a shirtless Rick Grimes pulls a gun oin her she reveals her true purpose: to help Lydia escape to safety. Michonne confirms Rick’s worst fear, that the peaceful community has transformed into an angry mob in just a few hours’ time.
This reversal of expectation is one of the story elements that makes Robert Kirkman one of the greats. We are not talking about cheap, M. Knight Shyamalan-style plot twists. This is something different. We assign simple expectations to these characters is if they’re merely there to move the plot along, but Kirkman breathes life into the people in his stories and they surprise us with their humanity. The best example of this technique is probably when Rick takes Negan prisoner a couple arcs back instead of taking his life. Kirkman preaches that these black and white figures are not merely fodder for the dead; they are each of them a singularity and a decisive victory in the war against total annihilation of human life on this planet.
Would you believe that this isn’t even the best part?
The reason this is the comic to read this week is because of the graphic representation of a discussion, of all things. As if sumoning the spirit of the Eagles song “Desperado,” Rick confronts Michonne because she won’t let anybody love her. She pushed her children away before everything changed and she followed suit with Ezekiel after the dead began to rise. Following this conversation, Rick and Michonne share a cry. It is often noted that Rick Grimes will do anything for his family, but it is just as often forgotten that Rick is a cop and a cop needs a partner. As such, Rick’s well-being is inextricably tied to that of Michonne. The love between Rick and Michonne is not romantic or familial; it is the love that is shared by professionals who share a common goal.
This scene is a moment of uncommon warmth, but it is overshadowed by a sense of foreboding. Rick mentions that the death of his wife Lori and daughter Judith was the necessary condition for the depth of happiness he currently has with his wife Andrea and son Carl, so when Lydia pulls a gun on Carl and Andrea this happiness is threatened in a serious way.
The implications of this face-off are huge. Lori and Judith Grimes were killed during the war with the Governor in The Walking Dead #48. Exactly 100 issues later, Andrea and Carl are potentially on their way to join the rest of the family. This next issue could be big.
My prediction: This particular application of the Lori/Judith parallel is a red herring. Ever since Negan was defeated, The Walking Dead has had a different tone. I think this is because Kirkman is shifting his focus from Rick to Carl. We are expected to read this comparison in terms of the situation that will hurt Rick the most when we should be thinking of the worst case scenario from Carl’s perspective. Carl loves Lydia fiercely, as only the young and inexperienced can. Furthermore, they have done the nasty which, in narrative terms, usually means that the female involved is pregnant. I think the most likely situation is that Lydia and her possible unborn child are going to be killed, and at the hands of either Carl or his surrogate mother Andrea. That’s actually all I want to say about that; I promised myself I wouldn’t cry…
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Though The Walking Dead was the only comic that really wowed me this week, I want you to know that I am forcing myself to have really high standards. Last week I passed by Amazing Spider-man #1 despite the fact that Dan Slott’s work is consistantly great. The concept of the Uncle Ben Foundation and later the unveiling of Horizon University at the wedding of Max Modell and Hector Baez were great, but I don’t want to devote this series of posts just to reviewing Amazing Spider-man. In the same vein, something ought to be said for Batman #45 and Guardians of the Galaxy #1. First and foremost, the confluence of Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and Batman is one of the best things that has happened to DC comics since Geoff Johns rebooted Green Lantern, but this episode, while certainly inspired, is not the one people are going to be talking about a year from now. As for Guardians of the Galaxy, Bendis is known for the slow build, and while GotG has long felt like his backup book or another word for Marvel Team-Up word is that he will be leaving the X-Men imprint shortly and there’s nothing more exciting than a project that Bendis is focusing his primary attention on. Will that be this volume of Guardians of the Galaxy or something else entirely? There is no way of telling. In the meantime, I’m going to keep my eyes on Batman and Guardians of the Galaxy, and if they don’t blow my mind in the next couple of months then I guess my readers will just have to tell me I was wrong.