Saying Goodbye to Skybound’s “The Walking Dead”

To say that I’ve been a fan of “The Walking Dead” is something of an understatement. I’ve been following Skybound’s “The Walking Dead” since it originally started and have been going along with every single issue since its debut in 2003 and haven’t looked back since. I was also elated when everyone else got to see what I was such a big fan of in 2010 when AMC turned Robert Kirkman’s comic book in to a hit television series and cultural phenomenon. A lot of other fans like myself have been complaining that “The Walking Dead” ended so abruptly, but that’s pretty much in keeping with what the series has been about since 2003.

Characters are introduced, and many, many characters die without much of an exit. Other characters don’t even have time to mourn their fallen, as they’re too busy trying to survive. “The Walking Dead” has practiced what life is about. Life is abrupt, death comes too quickly, and sometimes a lot of good people die under such unfair circumstances. The series pretty much hit its peak around the time the Whisperer War ended, and from then on you could sense Robert Kirkman was essentially trying to figure out what to do next. The Commonwealth seemed like the natural place to end the entire series, as the Commonwealth proved to be the biggest settlement in the history of the series. Everything starts and finishes for a ton of characters.

Robert Kirkman has never been about hinting at who might die and how. The big appeal and irritating catch to “The Walking Dead” has always been about who is going to die and if they will die in heroic fashion. The Governor dies in a hail of gunfire storming the gates of the prison. Abraham is taken down with an arrow to the eye and left to be fed to the dead. Andrea manages to go out with her loved ones by her side and her lover to take her out as she turned. Rosita died alone and under cruel circumstances thanks to the Alpha. Shocking enough, one of the banner heroes of “The Walking Dead,” Rick Grimes, died so abruptly. No hero’s goodbye. No fond farewell. No last words to his son Carl. No visions. No last stand. He was taken out in cold blood in the middle of the night by Sebastian, the son of the Commonwealth’s leader.

Of all the ways we ever envisioned Rick dying, it’s sad and absolutely stunning that the biggest hero of Robert Kirkman’s series is taken out by a chump. It’s ironic, sure, but watching Rick be shot repeatedly, bleeding to death alone, and being discovered by Carl as a newly revived walker is one of the most gut wrenching and heartbreaking unfolding of events “The Walking Dead” ever put to page. I say that especially as someone that absolutely loved the character warts and all, and loved how he’d managed to lead the surviving humans of the zombie apocalypse in to a new era. It’s heartbreaking.

Though Kirkman promised three hundred issues until the end, and even indicated old foe Negan would lead the charge for the series alongside Carl, “The Walking Dead” came to a sudden end in issue 193. Kirkman just completely cuts about every possible entry way for Image and Skybound to continue the series. The world has moved on and hasn’t seen a real actual walker in what seems like decades. Walkers are now becoming more urban legends than anything else. Carl is a father to a little girl named Andrea, and is married to Sophia. We learn the fate of just about everyone, including Maggie’s son Hershel who is now trapping walkers and putting them on display for folks to look at in town.

After Carl kills a walker that manages to drift away from Hershel’s stable, he’s arrested and taken to trial in the Commonwealth. There, he stands trial in front of Michonne, who is now a powerful judge. Carl manages to win but defies all orders by her to compensate Hershel with a new walker. There isn’t a lot of action or whatnot that occurs in the final issue. It’s mainly an epilogue with explanations of what happened to everyone that made it past issue 192, while the world came full circle rebuilding itself and entering in to a new industrial age thanks to an elderly Eugene.

There is some seeds planted with Hershel explaining how much he resents Carl, especially since Rick is now a statue and praised as a veritable God, while he never really got to know his own father. Hershel might end up being a repeat of Sebastian down the line, or perhaps someone who takes over for Maggie when she dies, posing a terrible threat for the Grimes family and their quiet life. I’m merely theorizing from this point on, but it’s interesting to imagine how this would spin in to kind of a zombie Western epic where older Carl Grimes and his daughter Andrea have to flee their home and enter in to the wasteland among the walkers to escape Hershel and his enforcers from the Commonwealth.

In either case, despite all of that fantasizing, “The Walking Dead” is done and it ends on a positive note where Carl declares the whole series as a story of hope. Truly, the world was saved by a man named Rick Grimes, and we get to see the results of struggles as old man Carl finishes a bed time story to young Andrea. It’s a fitting closer to an absolutely stellar comic book series. I don’t know what I’m going to get in to next. I doubt I’ll ever get in to another series as I did “The Walking Dead.” I’m heartbroken that it’s gone, but I’m quite happy that I was able to join the ride from the beginning and saw it through to the very end.