The Walking Dead #138 Comic Review
The white zone may be for loading and unloading passengers only, but this zone is for spoiling the crap out of The Walking Dead #138: Confrontation. Consider this your one and only warning. Otherwise, have a nice day.
If there was any doubt as to how The Walking Dead has been becoming more and more the story of Carl Grimes as opposed to his father, this issue, Confrontation, should make that more than abundantly clear. With the exception of Jesus and Gregory’s foregone conclusion of a fight and Maggie’s subsequent miraculous recovery from whatever ineffectual and weak excuse for a poison Gregory dosed her with, this issue was Carl’s to own. And own it he did.
Let’s get the obligatory discussion of Maggie’s lame assassination attempt out of the way. Gregory is a fool, his coup is over, and now he is whimpering in prison. End of story.
I do hope they revisit this coup. Gregory was not the only person involved, and we ultimately need resolution to the whole Sophia/Carl beatdown thing with the kids with parents from hell. However, this issue had some bigger bacon to fry, and I was happy to have the “Maggie being dead” thing over and done with as tidily as it was.
Last issue, Carl getting some teenaged action with the creepy eye socket licking girl was the talk of the town. This issue, things take a dramatically darker, and surprisingly sweet turn as we discover that Lydia isn’t the duplicitous mastermind we feared her to be, but instead, a tender young woman who has been horribly abused and dehumanized to the point of equating herself with an animal, simply another part of nature. For as romantic a notion that may sound, reading the description of what Carl very astutely called out for being rape was, to say the least, difficult to digest.
At this point, we still know virtually nothing about The Whisperers. We know they wear skins, we know they mingle within the undead. We know they eat from the land, we know they have a territory. To that list, we must now recognize that they rape their women and come up with a philosophy that justifies a society based on the most fundamental aspects of animal existence. Certainly not a society that I would be interested in becoming a part of. And Carl, for all of his post-first-coital-haze, knows enough to know that this philosophy is a bit off… a bit uncivilized to the point of vulgar… and I couldn’t feel prouder of the boy.
My first reaction was to question how Carl would even be aware of the concept of rape. He was such a young child at the start of the infection, and then I recalled the marauders and how it was Carl that was almost befouled by the roadside monsters. This is a fear that he can understand, and it her lack of fear that I believe he is reacting to. How can he understand acceptance? He can’t, and that is part of why The Walking Dead is moving from Rick to Carl Grimes.
Knowing all of this about The Whisperers, how did you feel when Alpha, their leader (who fortunately [or sadly, depending on your theory] is not Michonne), was a reasonable and seemingly kind woman? And that she was also Lydia’s mother? This is a perfect example of cognitive dissonance. You see one thing, and simply can’t resolve what you see with what you know. It makes no sense, and for as much as I want to hate these people (and I do), I also have to applaud their diplomacy and their kind treatment of Ken and Dante (and I do).
Do I believe Alpha is a cold and distant mother? Absolutely. Does she seem to command a people possibly thousands strong? Indeed. Is it great to see another woman as a leader of a community? Hell yeah!! Serious props to having two matriarchs having a reasoned and peaceful encounter without the testosterone filled displays of virtually every war… like… ever. Is it repugnant to think that this woman would allow her child to be a toy for the men in her community? Yes. A million times yes. And it is here that I can understand Carl’s determination to rescue his damsel in distress, regardless of her willingness to go.
This entire issue is a minefield. There are so many social norms being violated, and so many preconceived notions of “society” and “civilization” being questioned, that it’s difficult to know where to be outraged, and where to show solidarity. Is Maggie guilty of sending a girl to a life of being property? Possibly, but it was in exchange for two of her people. Does it make a difference that one of the men is a man that she may have romantic feelings towards? I don’t think so. Her reasoning seemed beyond reproach… and that, is the tricky part of diplomacy. And it is my opinion that Maggie did the right thing, regardless of Carl protestations.
But what of Carl unilaterally deciding that he has to be Lydia’s knight in shining armor? Stupid, stupid, stupid… and a decision that I probably would have made when I was that age. The teenager knows no reason. The teenager doesn’t understand sacrifice for the greater good. The teenager reacts. And ultimately, the teenager doesn’t give a shit, because he and/or she is right (to the aforementioned teenager that is). In this particular mission, I am very much of two minds… go and earn your armor young knight!… and, good gravy Carl, do you have any idea how many lives could end up lost due to your adolescent sense of right and wrong??!!
I can honestly say, I have no clue how I feel about this development, other than I believe we are in for one hell of a story.
What of Sophia looking for Carl? I would put an emoticon of a sad face here… but I am an adult man, and that is simply unbecoming.
Two months ago I likened The Walking Dead to a game of chess. The pieces had been set, and multiple games were in play. The last issue saw much of that game being played out… this issue we get resolution. One king has been deposed, and a stalemate has been reached with another. What no one expected was the sore loser… and it seems that Carl is going to get himself into a bit of trouble.
I can’t wait to see what sort of fallout comes from his hormone fueled decision, and what his dad is going to do when he finds out everything that has happened in the couple of days since he left his son in the care of The Hilltop. Plus, it’s kinda cool to see Carl finally accepting his lack of eye and not trying to cover it. A perfect example of the effect a single compliment from a woman, young or old, can have on a young man.
What do you think will happen next? I’ve given up trying to unravel the mind the Robert Kirkman… that’s a fool’s game… and really, really dark.
Mr. Blahg can be heard, along with his co-host Grace, weekly on Under the Comic Covers, a podcast dedicated to independent comics. Have any comments or questions for Mr. Blahg, he can be reached at [email protected].