Something brilliant happened at the end of The Walking Dead’s most recent issue, #144. No, I didn’t just read it. I’m just still digesting the damn thing.
No concrete spoilers here… just some vague rambling. Honestly, though, if you don’t read The Walking Dead, this post will probably be of little interest to you.
Robert Kirkman is an asshole
Despite the recent appearance of the creepiest faction yet, the series has been luring its readers into a sense of security, drip-feeding us the feeling things might turn out alright for the ever-growing group of survivors. Lesser writers would have failed to cover up all the clues that things were, once again, about to go balls-to-the-wall insane. Not Robert Kirkman.
I’m not saying he pulled a fast one on me. I’m saying I’ve allowed myself some willing blindness. His writing has been so dread-inducing for so many years, I’d just assumed he’d gone soft with the format change. Frankly, I was hoping he had… those characters have been through so damn much.
I’ve been digesting #144 ever since it came out. I keep thinking I should have known!, but that’s how this series hooks you: in most stories like this, you can’t wait until the shit hits the fan. Imagine buying a ticket to a zombie movie and nobody gets eaten. That’s all good and well for the main characters, but not too great for us, the viewers. I’ve come to realize that what Kirkman has managed to do with his characters is make me genuinely want a “happily ever after” scenario for them.
Even if nothing of interest ever happens again, it’ll be better than another one of those awful deaths.
Sure, those awful deaths are the very reasons we read this stuff. That doesn’t mean they don’t hurt like holy hell. When I read #100 and got to that scene, I paused, went glassy-eyed, and said to myself, “Fuuuuuuck.” It was like a band-aid ripped right out of the nether regions.
I kept hearing #144 wasn’t one to be missed, and when I got to the scene everyone’s been talking about in a roundabout way, I didn’t think it was too big of a deal…
Until I turned the page…
And the next one…
And, holy shit, the next one, too?!
That was, hands down, one of the most creative use of page-turns I’ve seen in… hell, I don’t even know how long. What a kick to the gut. And it just keeps getting more impressive the more I think about it.