The Walking Dead #145 Comic Review
If you are caught up on The Walking Dead, then proceed to read this review of issue #145: Blood For Blood… if you are not, you know you shouldn’t be reading this… unless of course you are one of those people who don’t care about spoilers and have no respect for the beautiful art of narrative and think that reading a wiki entry on something means you’ve read it… no you haven’t, and quite frankly, you are a monster (not really… but that notion makes me giggle). What I’m really getting at is… spoilers ahead for the latest issue of The Walking Dead.
Last month we were dealt a heavy blow. Twelve characters killed in one fell swoop by Alpha and The Whisperers (that would be a great band name btw)… some of which we barely knew, a few that we knew very well, and of those twelve, each community of the current system operating under the “Grimes Doctrine” was represented. This month picks up immediately after, and the shock, anger, and sadness drips off of every page.
Opening with the zombified head of Ezekiel, his hair feathers blowing in the wind, we see and feel the grief of those left behind. Michonne, face contorted with pain, streaked with tears; Rick, solemn and grave; one trying to comfort the other, while the other lashes out. What is impressing me the most with this issue, and there are more examples of this later on, is how true to each character their actions are.
Michonne, always having trouble with her emotions, her inability to sustain a relationship without pushing people away, perfectly exhibited in her literal pushing away of Rick as he moves in to dispatch with Ezekiel so she doesn’t have to… and eventually relenting and falling into the arms of her best friend, lamenting her loss. And if you were to think back, she had a similar problem in her relationship with Morgan, one that she didn’t quite get closure on as she confessed her feelings to a man in the process of dying.
Rick, taking as much of a high road that anyone could be expected. Willing to lend a shoulder for his friend, willing to say and do what he knows he must in order to maintain peace and prevent further death by keeping true to the aforementioned “Grimes Doctrine”, and ultimately, because he is the only one to have seen Alpha’s horde, being the person to have to deliver some of the worst news imaginable to a people currently unsuspecting that they are at the dawn of a whole new world, a world of potential war.
Andrea, stoic and supportive… Dante, feeling out of place, and trying his best to comfort those he barely knows. And Carl… losing a friend for the first time in quite some time. Was the deaths of Ben and Billy (one of which he had to kill… was it Ben?) that last time he had to deal with losing a friend? At least a friend who would be considered a peer. I will admit, I occasionally get the book and the TV show confused and keep thinking Sophia is dead (same with Andrea), and thought that was who he was referencing… but I believe the twins may be the last.
Which brings us to Lydia. I don’t know about you, but I am continually impressed with this young lady. Sure she licks eye sockets and led our little Carl into some sexy temptations, but when attacked by Michonne, she kept her cool, she maintained a very proper level of defense, and was there to comfort Carl when he needed it.
This issue offers no surprises, nothing earth shaking, but instead allows our characters, and us as readers, an opportunity to mourn. An opportunity to grieve and feel some genuine sadness at the loss of these twelve characters and what it will mean for those back in the community, some of which we certainly care more for than others.
Last month I made a point of saying that there really isn’t anything they can do at this point, and retaliation would be an extraordinarily bad decision. I was extremely pleased to hear Rick espouse that exactly… and, as I said before, everyone behaved true to their characters. But what of those unaware fair folk? How will they react once Rick tells them what has happened? That is certainly the cliffhanger for this issue, and I believe each group will react differently based on a number of different factors.
Let’s start with the reaction of Alexandria. Rosita had just announced her pregnancy, so the entire community was excited for her, while poor Eugene, busily working on an old CB radio, was blissfully unaware that Rosita was even missing. I would like to think that perhaps he wouldn’t scream for blood, but I believe him to be a fairly passionate man whose grief may override his sense of self-preservation. Don’t forget, this is the man who bit in to Dwight’s junk after the death of Abraham. Never count out Eugene… he may end up doing the stupidest thing yet (like going after Alpha on his own).
Olivia was a very beloved resident of Alexandria… but who will mourn her loss? We know that she has been getting a little nookey on the side, so maybe we will finally discover the identity of her lover. Or will is be Negan who will be most affected? They have spent quite a bit of time together lately. Granted, she seemed to spend a lot of time mocking his small manhood… but still, I’m sure he appreciated the company.
Moving on the Hilltop, this presents a huge problem. If Maggie rejects her community’s screams for blood by invoking the “Grimes Doctrine”, she will be opening a giant can of hypocrisy. Tammy’s husband and son can, and justifiably so, call her out on the fact that when someone tried to kill her, she had him hanged. Why is justice for her alone and not for everyone? Insurrection could occur. Or, perhaps she will be at odds with Rick and not go along with his decision for calmer heads? If this is the case, maybe she will break away with the Hilltop from the community at large. What do you think will happen?
Next, we have the Kingdom. Although Ezekiel was no longer “king”, he still appeared to have held some sway with his people as leader of their group. Without that leader, who will they turn to? Pity we know so little about the Kingdom, perhaps we will quickly learn more.
And speaking of groups we know very little about… the Sanctuary. With Dwight wavering in his ability or desire to lead, how will he proceed? Will he step up into his role, or relinquish his position in favor of someone more adamant about what to do? Will he leave the Sanctuary rudderless and in a state of anarchy as I predict the Kingdom may become?
So many questions… and I have barely even touched on the biggest wild card of them all. Negan. We have all been predicting some sort of scenario where Rick and Negan band together to take out a greater foe… could this be the time? I don’t imagine that will be Rick’s first inclination, but if things fall apart around him and his power wains due to a lack of confidence in his ability to lead, or rather, his lack of willingness to begin All Out War 2: Electric Bugaloo, perhaps he will have no other option. Do you think Negan could deal with Alpha in a way that would be effective? I can’t imagine that she would be cowed by all of his F-bombs and bluster… nor to I think the threat of Lucille would sway her in any way shape or form. What about that horde? Negan is tough, but come on… he’s not THAT tough.
Finally, Lydia gave us some more juicy tidbits with regards to The Whisperers. They have never done anything like this before, our community is the largest that they have come upon (which then makes me wonder how many other communities are out there in the world and who much success and failure they may be having), and that Alpha is afraid. We caught a glimpse of this when she handed her daughter over to Rick in the hope that he could keep her safer, but if Alpha is ultimately the threat, and she has shown a willingness to do horrendous things, is she simply counting on Rick and Co. not retaliating? Or do you believe she is expecting it, and that is why she gave up Lydia?
Overall, I found this to be an exceptional issue. I am assuming that there will be many people complaining that this is more of a filler issue because we didn’t get anyone else’s reactions, and on my first read I thought, “yeah, that was sad… not much happened… oh well”. And of course, with a title like “Blood For Blood” and a cover depicting Michonne’s katana covered in gore, it appeared as though it was going to be more action than tearful… yet another example of not judging a book by it’s cover. Upon subsequent reads, the beauty of the space given for sadness, the restraint on Kirkman’s part for allowing our characters and us the readers the opportunity to grieve, and the chance he takes in slowing down the pace of something that people want ramped up. It feels mature. It feel restrained in all the best ways. It feels like masterful storytelling.
Before I close this out, I have to give kudos to Charlie Adlard and Stefano Gaudiano. The art in this issue was spectacular. Capturing this depth of emotion, and in so many different ways in keeping true to each character, is impressive, and I believe they did a stellar job.
What are you expecting with the next issue and how people will react? I would love to hear some theories… send me an email and share your thoughts!
Mr. Blahg can be heard, along with his co-host Grace, weekly on Under the Comic Covers, a podcast dedicated to independent comics, as well as Game of Microphones, a podcast dedicated to Game of Thrones. Both of these podcasts are part of the Podcastica Network. Have any comments or questions for Mr. Blahg, he can be reached at [email protected].