By Jared Cornelius
Welcome back to Typing On The Dead, Bleeding Cool's review and dissection of the latest issue of The Walking Dead. Issue #144 was one of my favorites in a long time, bringing back some real positive memories of great stories gone by for the ongoing zombie classic. In the year following All Out War, I'd resigned myself to the book having a new slower pace in favor of a wide variety of characters and stories. But last issue Kirkman took us to a very familiar place, a dark place that I don't feel like we've seen in a while. This month we continue in that direction and feel the fallout from some very grim circumstances. As always, *SPOILER WARNING* for the remainder of the article.
The Walking Dead #145 by Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard
We begin with a still shot of Ezekiel's head on the pike. However it's not still for long as his mouth begins to move. Rick looks upon him with a heavy heart as he and the group know what they need to do. Michonne starts to cry and looks at her lost love before pulling out a knife and approaching him. Rick stops her and asks that he end Ezekiel's suffering, but Michonne is too overcome with grief asking Rick to let her go. Rick again offers to take on the burden, but kicks some literal push-back from Michonne.
Michonne shoves Rick to the ground and after a moment realizes she's pushing her loved ones away not unlike she did to Ezekiel. She apologizes and hugs Rick while Andrea takes the knife from her and puts Ezekiel to rest. Andrea asks that the others help as Carl, Dante, and Lydia knife up for the dirty work. Meanwhile Michonne and Rick are still sharing a hug while she laments about throwing away what she and Ezekiel had, telling Rick, "There's something wrong with me." Rick simply replies "There's something wrong with all of us."
While the two friends share a hug Andrea, Carl, Dante, and Lydia are putting their friends to rest with a knife to the brain. Michonne gathers herself for a moment, but loses it almost immediately as she tackles Lydia. Screaming at the young girl, Michonne demands that Lydia answer if she knew this would happen or if her people have done it before. Carl pulls a gun on Michonne while Dante encourages everyone to calm down, but Lydia isn't some shrinking violet.
Michonne is full of rage, while Lydia stays stone cold with a knife to her neck. Michonne finally relents as Lydia tells them The Whisperers have never encountered a group as large as theirs, having only come across smaller groups that joined them. Lydia postures that Alpha may be scared of them as she's helped up. Michonne sees Carl with the gun trained on her and tells him to put it away with a disappointed look. After putting their friends to rest, Andrea raises the next question, what will they do with the heads, while Carl asks what happened to the bodies? Lydia tells the group The Whisperers have likely taken them to use as skin suits and Rick wonders if they should take the heads back. Michonne isn't having any of it and commands that they bury them on the border. Rick agrees but insists the poles stay where they are. Michonne asks why, content to tear the makeshift fence down, but Rick says The Whisperers marked the territory and it's deep in their un-mapped zone, figuring knowing where the border is would benefit their safety. Michonne isn't happy with the answer and wonders why they aren't riding back to Alexandria to rally an army. Rick can't give her a good answer, but Michonne reiterates that The Whisperers killed their people and they have an obligation to do something. Rick isn't ready to budge and looks at the cold hard facts, they killed 12 people they loved, but he doesn't fully comprehend what they're up against, urging caution against the unknown. Michonne however brings up a valid point.
Rick simply looks away for a moment and tells her, "Maybe". Rick understands how Michonne feels but pleads that she be stronger than he could be. Michonne angrily processes the request and walks away from the group. Andrea asks Rick to let her go and says that she needs time to process the ordeal. Being that Rick isn't in the leading mood right now, he asks for Andrea's input into the matter. She urges caution in dealing with the situation, informing Rick that she wants to ride back to the Whisperer camp and kill until they bring her down but it would be a stupid reaction. Rick isn't crazy about the idea and knows that this situation won't end well, feeling that Andrea's reaction is the normal one and it could turn the group against him
Andrea grabs Rick and tells him they won't let it happen as the two embrace. Carl's having some regrets about his decision as well, looking over the head of Josh, his friend whose mom would be making him a hooded sweatshirt from before his trip to the Hilltop. Carl morns Josh while hugging Lydia and remembering the pain of losing a friend. Dante however has no one to hug and goes looking for Michonne. He asks if she's OK and gets the obvious answer, she tells him to forget it and asks that he start digging.
Back in Alexandria, Eugene is having a great time looking over his new radio before he gets a knock at the door. Maggie, Jesus, and Doc Carson are at the door and it's not good. Maggie's relived to see Eugene and assumes Rosita is with him. Eugene knows that Rosita isn't home and goes running out the door for his missing lover. While Eugene takes off, Jesus comforts Doc Carson and reassures him they'll find his brother.
Rick and the group have made their way back to Alexandria as the beleaguered leader gets up in front of the fairground crowd to give a speech, unfortunately it isn't exactly a cheerful one. He briefly talks about the huge strides they've made and how today was supposed to be about joy, before ominously announcing he has terrible news to end the issue.
Another solid outing from Kirkman and company! I spoke a little bit in the beginning of the article about the change of pace in the series and while it took a while but we finally have some solid payoffs. For over a year, I've noticed fans of the book jumping off the title and lamenting the slower less spooky pace of the series. While I agree that the pace has been slow, I've also been a big advocate that there's more at stake. The folks of Alexandria and the Hilltop have more to lose now than they ever did before. Take Michonne, who out of some sort of guilt felt she didn't deserve to be happy, and when something resembling a happy ending was close, it was stolen from her. I eulogized King Ezekiel in the last installment of Typing on The Dead, but I really can't understate how important his death is to a beloved character who was emotionally fragile at best. Rick's society that he fought so hard for is at stake, Eugene's lost the person he cared for most in the world, Carl has to live with the guilt of his actions, and all these are before we see the larger reaction of the people of Alexandria.
This issue was about loss and dealing with grief, but it was also about showing the cracks. With Maggie doing her own thing at the Hilltop, Carl risking the lives of the people of Alexandria for love, and now a horrible tragedy right under everyone's nose, this is where I can see the society they've fought so hard to build coming apart. Much like the look of disappointment on Michonne's face when Carl drew a gun on her. Through thick and thin, the one thing Rick's group had was each other and an unwavering loyalty, with so few of them left, it's hard to imagine this isn't the first sign that the trust between them starting to break.
I also feel like Robert Kirkman needs some extra kudos for a job well done. This issue had a visceral feel with really raw emotions. The best content of any kind gives people an emotional response and this issue did a great job with that making me personally feel anxious, nervous, and hungry for the next page. Stellar work Mr. Kirkman!
That's all for this time folks, you can check out my other regular column, Sweet Release! every Wednesday morning where you can find out about the weeks hot new video games. If you'd like to read a great interview I did with the very intriguing Joshua Williamson of Birthright and Nailbiter you should check out Bleeding Cool Magazine #18 which should be on store shelves at the end of the month. It's a terrific magazine and I'm not just saying that because they pay me, it's actually the best comic's periodical on the shelves and that is a stone cold fact!
Jared Cornelius is some guy from the Jersey coast who's relieved it's only 80 degrees instead of 100. Tell him your temperature woes @John_Laryngitis on Twitter.