Following the events of last month’s installment, this issue of The Walking Dead is mostly clean-up in the aftermath of the attack on the Community by a gang of desperate bandits. With everyone pretty much safe and sound, Kirkman focuses on the idea of security this month, with several characters attempting to sort out what it means to be safe in this new world.
The basic idea of this community, where Rick and his band of survivors have made their new home, is mutual safety through cooperation, where everyone pulls their weight and everyone has a role. It’s full of nice people who just want to live in peace, and that’s the problem for some members of Kirkman’s ever-expanding and contracting cast: the Community isn’t much different from the prison where Rick and his crew camped out or any of the other settlement attempts in the series. They’re all doomed eventually, and some of the characters see this.
Among some of the characters—weathered series veteran Rick Grimes included—there’s the hope that with a plan, everything will be okay. But how does the saying go:”No plan survives an encounter with the enemy.” Well, when the enemy isn’t just the zombies, but an increasingly hostile world, most plans are likely to get smashed right to hell. Kirkman’s not shy about illustrating this in two separate incidents this issue, first with the return of scouts Eric and Aaron after a failed recruitment attempt, and later with a routine “walker” clean-up operation outside the walls of the community. The former is something of a minor incident while the latter might end up somewhere this side of a disaster when all is said and done.
But the most poignant development occurs during a quick conversation between Rick and his son, Carl which actually works as the flipside of last month’s theme of maintaining one’s humanity in survival. Through it all, Rick has essentially remained an optimist and a humanist, but from the encounter between father and son, it’s looking like the once bright and cheerful young boy has been profoundly, maybe irrevocably affected by this life. The conversation is pretty straightforward—and typical of Kirkman—on-the-nose, but what it lacks in poetry, it balances out in feeling.
I can almost see a natural conclusion to the series with Rick and Carl, working their way through the back roads of the slowly dying and decaying United States—alone together—like a zombie-infested vision out of Cormac McCarthy.