In which a much-missed character makes an unexpected return after a prolonged absence, and Carl Grimes is once again a headstrong dipstick… Your Major Spoilers review of The Walking Dead #139 awaits!
THE WALKING DEAD #139
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler: Charlie Adlard
Inker: Stefano Gaudiano
Graytones: Cliff Rathburn
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously in The Walking Dead: A few months ago, the story of Rick Grimes and his plucky band of survivors took a jump forward in time, allowing for comic Carl to age up and match TV Carl, to give us a whole new status quo and to hopefully break the cycle of “Sanctuary, Attack, Rinse, Repeat” that is the most frustrating part of being a long-term TWD reader. Of course, a few of our regulars have been MIA during the brave new world, and a new threat has arrived in the form of a nomadic group of loonies who call themselves The Whisperers. After interacting with one of the Whisperers, Carl Grimes set off to find her again, for reasons that may have more to do with hormones than with compassion.
CARL’S GONE ROGUE AGAIN
Though you probably already know which missing cast member I’m talking about, the issue opens with another returning member fo the supporting cast: Ezekiel, no longer playing king but instead clearing out walkers in style near the settlement. When I first read the issue, I was very worried to see him using a familiar katana in his pest control efforts, making me worry that the long-absent Michonne was (his former flame) was actually dead. Rick and Ezekiel have a nice conversation that thankfully puts that worry to rest, and a conversation back in the city whose name escapes me raises worries about young Carl Grimes, who has set out into the wilds in pursuit of a girl (who is herself one of the mysterious Whisperers.)
AND MICHONNE IS FINALLY BACK!
Rick’s visit with good ol’ Zeke is just prelude, though, as he’s on his way to the coast to meet a boat (and it’s about time these people took advantage of water travel) captained by the long-missing Michonne. The bulk of the issue is a quiet conversation between old friends, with Michonne finally telling Rick another of her well-kept secrets of pre-zombie life. These quiet slice-of-life issues are my favorite parts of TWD, where we really get to know these characters, and feel their struggles, so that Kirkman can really get us in the heart when they’re torn limb-from-limb before our eyes. This one does the trick, and sets up a number of things to lead us into the next arc of the book, one which seems like it could something new and different. Charlie Adlard is always excellent, but does really wonderful work this issue with facial expressions and blocking scenes to keep even a sunset conversation visually interesting.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A QUIET BUT ENGAGING ISSUE
The strength of this comic lies in the long-term nature of the story being told, described by Kirkman as ‘the zombie movie that never ends.’ That leads to some readers complaining about the cyclical nature of the plotting, but also gives us lovely quiet moments like this issue. The Walking Dead #139 is one of the reasons people love this book, and shows that the characters (and the creators) still have surprises for us that can change the story being told, earning an impressive 4 out of 5 stars overall.