Walking Dead #127
Written by: Robert Kirkman
Penciler, Inker: Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, and Cliff Rathburn
Published by: Image Comics
Walking Dead #127 takes some pretty bold leaps in storytelling, and for this reason, this is one of my favorite issues of all time. Comic books often fall into the trap of circular storytelling, rehashing the same types of conflicts over and over again so that the drama becomes stale. Kirkman, it seems, will not be falling into that particular pit trap, and he does so by moving us two years into the future.
The comic begins with a new group of survivors, led by a woman named Magna, who encounter the Alexandria colony when some of the survivors accidentally distract a herd right into the new band. Jesus invites them to see Alexandria, which has evidently done well for itself in the last two years, and after interviewing Rick, the new people are invited to stay. Everything appears to be stable. Of course, one can only imagine what tensions are simmering beneath the surface, and it’s easy to see that Carl is going to be at the center of it. He’s visiting Negan regularly, partly to talk to him like he might talk to a therapist or guidance counselor, and partly because he still wants to kill him.
The decision to move us into the future is a good one, partly because it gives the reader time to settle in and get ready for a new story arc. It’s hard to imagine a way to move straight from the war between Rick and the Saviors into yet another crisis story, and any such crisis would feel like rehashing old ground. Instead, we see what’s happened now that Rick is effectively leading all of the survivors. There’s a hen’s tooth moment in this comic, because what we see the survivors doing is encouraging. Crops are being grown, children are going to school, and the survivors are planning to put on a fair. This is a long way away from Issue #1 or Issue #48. The book needs moments like this, because if this series was only unremitting horror, the reader would inevitably lose interest.
This series’ greatest strength is its depiction of the nitty-gritty aftermath of a Zombie apocalypse, raising questions about we gather food, who else would survive, and what parts of our old lives we could resurrect. It seems inevitable that little “states,” if you will, would form like we see in this book as the hardened survivors congregate. George A. Romero might be correct in the short-term that a group could be just as dangerous as a zombie, but in the long-term, you want to be around other people when the zombies are at the gate. Individual issues of The Walking Dead can be slow at times as characters resolve conflicts, but #127 avoids that because there’s so much catching up to do with the survivors.
So where does the series go from here, now that everything is so cheery? Well, the survivors are still faced with these massive herds of zombies, and while they have a capable system for distracting them, I can see something going wrong in the future. With Negan acting as a sinister father figure/therapist to Carl, one can imagine tensions growing between Carl and Rick, especially as Carl is requesting to learn a trade in a different settlement. And we still don’t know what else is out there, outside of the space the survivors inhabit.