What the Heck, Walking Dead Comic? (Also, Yay, Walking Dead Show!)

I’ve been on a little bit of a zombie kick as of late (maybe because Halloween–Happy Halloween everyone!), mostly because of all my opportunities to catch up on Walking Dead stuff.

It’s been really fantastic.  I finished Season 3, and I definitely think the show is much improved over Season 2.  The horrific things felt pretty pitch perfect to me, and there were actually plenty of hope spots throughout this season’s narrative.  Andrea’s arc in particular strikes me as especially poignant (I’m going to discuss spoilers from here on, so come back later if you haven’t seen Season 3 and care not to know what happens in advance) with her back-and-forth between Woodbury and the main group trying to prevent a war.  In the finale, when she’s sitting in the torture room talking with Milton (I think she’s talking with Milton; I’m slightly fuzzy on details at the moment) she explains that she could have prevented all the death if she had just killed the Governor when she had the opportunity.  I think that it’s supposed to be ironic, implying that all the killing that’s happened since that point is Andrea’s fault (driven home by the fact that the Governor guns down his own people in the finale right around the same time if my memory’s not faulty), but I really couldn’t bring myself to judge Andrea harshly.

See, like I’ve mentioned previously, The Walking Dead is a series that’s mostly concerned with the questions of how we maintain our humanity (an interesting concept in itself, since depending on your worldview, humanity’s a quality that’s either what makes us essentially dignified creatures or base ones) when stripped of all the modern comforts and advantages that allow us to think about things beyond basic survival.  It’s kind of like asking if it’s possible for people to even aspire towards higher goals on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs while they’re constantly bombarded with threats to basic safety (as a side note, I think this upending of the theoretical hierarchy is a core concept in ideologies of sacrifice, like Christianity).

English: Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Resized,...

English: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Resized, renamed, and cropped version of File:Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs.svg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyway, getting back to Andrea, I think that it’s supremely noble of her to try so hard to find a bloodless solution to a problem that involves a lot of desperate people (and one very psychologically disturbed one).  A pragmatic view would call her naive, and I can see that; the Governor’s death early on would have prevented a lot of pain and death for innocent people.  Still, Andrea’s remarkable because she’s a character who actually sees value in the Governor (who, for all his sadism, I find somewhat sympathetic, if only because it’s clear that he’s been slowly going insane due to the stress of his situation–keep in mind, of course, that he’s still very much a villain, since his introductory episode shows him killing a group of ragged soldiers in order to take their supplies rather than trying to incorporate them into his township).  As a viewer, I kept hoping that the Governor would get offed, and I’ll admit I was disappointed that he got away at the end of the season.  As a Christian (yeah, I’m pulling out the C-card; by the way, for a really thoughtful expression of what I find admirable in Andrea’s attempts to stop the fighting, read Shane Claiborne’s response to a recent article that Mark Driscoll posted about Christian pacifism), I wanted to see him redeemed, even after all the awful things he did.  Merle got his redemption in this season, after a really good run as a villain, so I’m hoping to see something similar in the Governor (although given the trajectory of his character, I doubt the writers would do anything so dramatic, if only because I think it’d be immensely difficult to get most of the audience to sympathize with him again) down the road.

Anyhow, that’s enough about the show (I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I liked about this season), especially since this post was (if the title is anything to go by) supposed to be about my frustration with the Walking Dead comic.

I’m not sure where to start in cataloging what irks me about the comic, just because there’s so much.  A lot of characters that I love in the show are so difficult to read in the comic, partly because they’re so remarkably different from how they’ve developed on the show, and partly because the comic takes a much more cynical view of the series’s central question.  The show, for all its darkness, includes moments of hope, like Season 3’s ending where Rick chooses to invite the survivors of Woodbury to join his group in the prison (which he seems to emphasize to Carl is the right thing to do, after Carl shot a boy from Woodbury who had been surrendering to him).  I’ve not finished reading the Woodbury arc in the comic yet (I honestly don’t even know if it gets wrapped up in the first compendium) but I seriously doubt that it’s going to end with that kind of reconciliation.  Also, where I have some real sympathy for the Governor in the show, the same character in the comic just makes me feel sick.  He’s even more sadistic without any of the apparent charisma, and he continues to do things that are just more and more horrific in comparison to his counterpart on the show.  The two versions share the back story of the zombified daughter that he keeps in his apartment, but where it’s sadly tragic in the show, it’s just pathetic in the comic (perhaps it’s because the Governor’s just so flip about feeding Penny body parts from people he’s captured).

Anyhow, that’s enough ranting for now.  Both versions of this series are incredibly compelling, but I definitely prefer one over the other.

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