The Biggest Walking Dead Story Ever Starts This Week

The Biggest Walking Dead Story Ever Starts This Week

It's become a bit of a cliché to say that living people — and not the shambling undead — are the most interesting thing about zombie fiction. And while that's true in The Walking Dead, what makes the series stand apart is how it makes its characters and readers relive human history. Now, the latest issue of the hit horror series puts the future of humanity at stake. But, whatever happens, it sure seems like we're screwed. WARNING: MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW FOR THE WALKING DEAD SERIES.

The Walking Dead celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and, in a bit of freakish coincidence, it couldn't be more relevant. Issue 115, out this week, kicks off the All Out War storyline, which pits two of the last human factions against each other. The storyline starts after main character Rick Grimes has finally put down real roots for himself and his band of survivors after months without a true home. The peace of their restored suburban hamlet was only temporary, though, and Rick finds himself having to marshal two communities against a marauding army led by a insane, charismatic biker tough called Negan.

The clash in All Out War isn't just going to be about getting access to another group's stores of food or bullets. Rick vs. Negan represents a battle of philosophies between men who've managed to survive in very different ways. Negan has used force and intimidation to demand tributes and servitude from the living left in the series' post-disaster world. The best way to make sure anybody survives, he thinks, is to have a ruthless power keeping everyone in check. Rick, on the other hand, has tried to help his fellow man by allying with other non-zombie humans. Trust, not fear, has been what he's formed his clan around. So, the coming conflict is essentially an example of 'irresistible force meets immovable object'.

The Biggest Walking Dead Story Ever Starts This Week

And because it's Walking Dead, even if Rick's side wins out, you know the costs extracted will be heavy. This isn't superhero comics. There haven't been any magic reset button or rise-from-the-dead plot devices in the series' 10-year history.

Readers who've been along for Rick's entire journey have seen him and his crew move through different archetypes of collective human behaviours. First they were hunter/gatherers, concerned with only the most basic food/shelter survival needs. As their rapport coalesced, they became a nomadic society, living in various locales while conditions allowed but moving on when the elements turned against them. And now they have tentatively resurrected civilizations like the ones lost when the zombie plague hit.

The Biggest Walking Dead Story Ever Starts This Week

It's appropriate that this new era of The Walking Dead comes out during a week when the American federal government is comatose because people in power can't even talk to each other. The federal shutdown is an example of how the worst in human behaviour manages to survive inside systems meant to ensure equitable existences for everyone. Basically, these people are supposed to know better. Yet here we are. The survivors in The Walking Dead are in the same boat: making mistakes that indulge the worst parts of their natures even when they should be drawing on prior experiences that tell them to do the opposite.

The Biggest Walking Dead Story Ever Starts This Week

This arc is the tipping point of a turnabout of how conflict has been handled in Robert Kirkman's zombie epic. Arguments and violence have happened on smaller scales, either person-to-person or between smaller enclaves of survivors. But now entire societies are ready to kill each other in a war that will wipe out huge swathes of the precious few people presumably left on the planet.

The most wrenching part of The Walking Dead has been the children winding up either tragically hardened by their circumstances or as casualties of the horrific new landscape. It's a terrible series to read as a new dad, wondering how much strength either me or my kid would have under such a harsh reality.

So, yes: people are the worst thing to happen to each other, the same way it's always been. The Walking Dead does more than ask what makes us human, though. It pushes even further and wonders if human nature needs to fundamentally change under harrowing circumstances. Whether it's yes or no, the answer is more horrible than having a long-dead person trying to make a meal of your intestines.


Comments

    Just read it. So glad Negan hasn't actually turned into Governor 2.0. Reread the Governor issues recently and he was ok, but a little one dimensional. Negans actually turned into a MUCH better character. Had the timing been reversed and Negan come first? The Governor would not have been as popular...

      My thoughts:

      Yeah, the Governor was kind of one dimensional. An outright son of a bitch - just ask Michonne - but just that. We didn't really get his motivation apart from Dr Stevens saying "he used to be a good guy, but then the power went to his head." The Governor came about when the story was still very much about Rick and co. The Governor and Woodbury were just a brick wall to smash that core group up against.
      Now the story's broadened; it's about the world, rather than the group. The series needed a much more nuanced antagonist to match the scope of what their world, and the comic, has become. You don't just need the motivation of Rick's group to fight; you need their opponent's as well, because this time around Rick has options. As bad as servitude to Negan would be, it would be a considerably safer existence than fending for themselves in the RV. Negan needed to be a really fleshed out character to convince us that, for Rick, bowing down to him would ultimately have devastating consequences not just for people, but for everything that's left of civilization. Just as important is our need to understand and accept why Negan's crew is driven to obey him when he's at his worse. The crazy thing is, Negan's genuinely hilarious and he steals every frame he's in. He's an awesome character and I can't wait to see how the next ten or so issues play out.

      Last edited 11/10/13 4:20 pm

        Oh absolutely and they've done a fantastic job fleshing out Negan as a full blown character as opposed to the Governor, who I do love still, but he was a tyrannical one note character. You're right about Negan always stealing the spotlight, he really does. Especially when Lucille is involved lmao. His reaction to Lucille being shot, was outright hilarious, and his story about how he sometimes *ahems* Lucille, was just sick and twisted and still laugh out loud funny at the same time. Yet then, like in issue 100 where he caves Glenns head in on the side of the road, Negan can switch to total psycho at the drop of a hat, then switch back to charming mode all in one go. A fantastic character and I look forward to this arc and hopefully Ricks eventual triumph without losing ANOTHER hand...

          Lucille and Negan ... a match made in heaven.
          I don't think he switches from one to the other, per se - even when he's doing horrible things to otherwise nice people he does it with bravado and charisma. There's no one or the other, they're both always there, ready to pop out at a moment's provocation. Flat out gutting Spencer for being gutless - then chuckling at his own wit - was my favourite Negan moment so far.
          And there's another pivotal difference between the Governor and Negan - the Gov was changed by what the world became, and I get the sense Negan felt right at home as soon as the first roamers turned up at his doorstep. I reckon Lucille would have felt pretty damn good to pick up and air swing a couple of times.

            been playing borderlands 2 and it seems like the "handsome jack" character is a total rip off of Negan.

              Oh yeah? Well, they do say the purest form of flattery is imitation.

    I love the fact that the next ten or so issues come out at a faster than the usual torturous monthly rate. This is by far the best comic I've ever delved into and I agree with pretty much everything Evan said. Zombie fiction is at its best when the zombies are used more as an excuse to examine human nature rather than be the focus of the story itself. The threat, whatever form it takes, should do two things: strip away modern civilization, and give the remaining inhabitants an inherent motivation - survival. You're completely free to examine human nature in post-apocalyptic fiction because your characters are already stripped to the core. They don't need very much, at a base level - food, shelter, safety. The fun is in how they get to what they want, and how they behave once they have it.

      THEY WHA!?!?!?!?!?! Whens the next issue!?!?!?!

        2 a month for the next 6 months. So I'm guessing the trade schedule jumps to once every 3 months as opposed to once every 6. Unless he's going to break tradition, and bind more than six issues together (in the regular trade paperback sequencing, as opposed to the compendiums/hcs) - which I doubt he'd do.

        So yeah. New issue every 2/3 weeks!

    Re: Negan/Governor - without getting spoilery.

    The governor was a nutjob, to be sure. But based on the image he presented to his "people" - he seemed a hard ruler, but generally a fair, decent man - once that masquerade was torn away - his power over his people diminished. His nastiness was a twisted, depraved, self loathing one, he kept hidden away beneath a composed front. But once you've seen behind the curtain, there's no hiding the wizard again.

    Now Negan - he's. A nutjob for all seasons, inwardly and outwardly psychopathic - but has nothing to "hide" from his people. He's crazy, he keeps us in line, he works our society on a ticket/points system - but we accept it. There's no secret psychopath to expose, to diminish the control he holds over his people, because - he's out and about. They'd die for him/for tickets, they'd give their life in servitude (marriage even) - eagerly. If there's any hidden sides to his character - we've yet to see them.

      But would they actually die for him is the question... you're only led to believe they would because he's in charge at this point.

    I love The Walking Dead, but since Rick and his crew arrived at his current town, met the Hillside town, bumped in Negan, etc, its been dragging. Some issues I finish reading and its like nothing even happened!
    Yes, theres been some shocking and memorable moments in the past 30 or so issues, but on a whole its really dragged.
    The latest issue (115?) I was all set because, finally, its on! But no, it wasnt on! It was just another issue of build up with 'another unexpected twist' at the end.
    Now Im at the point I just want this whole Negan scenario to be over with so we can move on.

      agreed, im sick of negan. just kill him already.
      favourite issue so far was the alien invasion one

    I'm sorry, I was put off after the events of issue 100. Maybe one day I'll get back into it, but I really can't see baseball bats the same way, especially when I think of people I care about. Because I cared about Glenn.

      Yeah. I almost cried on the train when that happened. If I'd been comfortable and at home, I definitely would have.
      Oddly enough, that just made me love it more. To leave a series behind because you care too much about the characters to see them die... It just made me want the best for those who live. And I know they won't get it. Somehow, I find that compelling.

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