Comic review: ‘The Walking Dead’ gets interesting, turns tables on Rick (in a characterization sort of way)
Robert Kirkman and company are putting together the best story arc “The Walking Dead” comic has seen in some time. Dubbed “A Larger World,” Rick and his group of survivors are slowly realizing that, in order to rebuild and truly survive, they must trust other survivors they come across.
In issue No. 95, Rick and some of his heaviest hitters — Andrea and Michonne, for example — are led to a large camp where about 200 other survivors are now calling home. Barricaded behind scrap metal walls, this camp has a lot of things that wow Rick and his group: stables for horses, individual houses for tenants, a garden, and a large historical building that offers a perfect 360-degree vantage point to scope out the surrounding areas.
This journey began a couple issues ago when the group encountered Jesus, a liaison of sorts for the community Rick is taken to this issue. Jesus describes to Rick that there are other communities out there, with trade agreements, and that they work together to have a better life. Jesus admits he’s been watching Rick’s camp for a while and decided they were safe to approach.
But it doesn’t go exactly to Jesus’ plan: Rick is highly skeptical of Jesus and thinks it’s a plot to ambush the camp. Rick keeps Jesus locked up for a bit and attempts to get answers out of him. All the while, Jesus maintains his story and is completely courteous to Rick and the others, and tells Rick he understands why he’s so skeptical.
Finally Rick agrees to go to Jesus’ camp. Handcuffed the entire time, Jesus gains Carl’s trust, much to Rick’s chagrin. After Jesus reveals to Rick that he escaped the handcuffs long ago, he makes an appeal, telling Rick he isn’t dangerous and the fact that he never attacked anyone when he could proves such.
Rick is impressed with Jesus’ camp, and meets with the camp’s leader, Gregory. As Gregory is showing Rick around, a scout named Ethan comes rushing and explains there’s a hostage situation at a neighboring settlement. Gregory is then attacked by Ethan, as Ethan shouts explanations that the only way the hostage situation will end if is Gregory dies.
Rick comes to Gregory’s aide and pulls Ethan off, only to find himself in a tough place as Ethan has his knife aimed for Rick’s throat. A crowd forms around the scuffle but no one intervenes, partially because of what Ethan is yelling at everyone and partially because no one knows Rick.
Finally, Rick gains the upper hand and kills Ethan, stabbing him in the throat as people look on in terror. Rick gets up and notices the onlookers and simply says, “What?”
This issue does a couple of things: One is that it shows us Kirkman has a much more grand idea for our characters than previously explored. It also shows that Rick has become an aggressor and has lost all faith and trust in other humans, because of all of the things he’s seen since the zombie apocalypse began (such as the run-ins with The Governor and cannibals). And, finally, it maintains that the great threat to every survivor aren’t the zombies, but other survivors.
When Rick kills Ethan and nonchalantly asks “What?” to the onlooking crowd, it shows that he’s become truly accustomed to this way of life. It’s kill or be killed, and clearly not many people in Jesus’ camp realize that. Perhaps they’ve been lucky and haven’t seen the same horrors Rick has. Perhaps there’s still some innocence in the world. But when it comes to Rick and his group, that’s simply not something they believe anymore.
There’s clearly tension and problems between two camps, and we’ll no doubt see it get resolved. The big question is how. Will Rick make a case for physical confrontation, or will he become the diplomatic Rick we saw early on in the comics? It’ll be interesting to see how Kirkman writes it out, though I believe it’ll begin diplomatic and end with physical confrontation.
“The Walking Dead” is doing well as it inches toward issue No. 100. Right now all we’re getting is the big build before the climax, and so far it’s been solid reading. With the introduction of Jesus and “A Larger World,” things can only get interesting from here.