Final Thoughts on the Walking Dead Comic (Compendium 1)

I’ve come to the conclusion that The Walking Dead comic series is written exclusively for the purpose of making the characters as miserable as possible while keeping the audience on the hook about what’s going to happen next.  Well, I, for one, am not buying into it anymore.  Yep, I’m done.  I can’t take it anymore.  Jude the Obscure was less depressing than this (also funnier).  No more Walking Dead comic for me.

Spoilers follow.

I understand perfectly that in an ongoing story about a catastrophic zombie outbreak (someone should write a story about a zombie outbreak that’s contained quickly and cleanly with minimal loss of life, if only to lampoon the prevalence of zombie-related tropes in today’s pop culture) people must die, and there will inevitably be people dying who the audience has gotten attached to.  Character deaths actually don’t bother me that much, so I don’t have any complaints over Tyreese, or Axel, or Patricia, or Billy, or Hershel, or Lori, or even baby Judith dying violently during the Governor’s attack on the prison.

What I do have a complaint about is characters who are just written to be infuriating.

File:Issue 42.jpg

“Oh God, Carol! Why were you so poorly written?” (Image credit: walkingdead.wikia.com)

Like Carol.

On the show, Carol is one of my favorite characters.  She’s an abused woman who’s also lost her daughter (in perhaps the most traumatic way possible), and despite her hardships, she remains a wonderful character who helps hold together a lot of the other characters who are suffering through their own traumas.

In the comic, she’s an abused woman who has some very serious mental health issues who is constantly looking for someone to enter a romantic relationship with.  This in and of itself isn’t necessarily bad or unrealistic, but when Carol reaches the point where she throws herself at both Rick and Lori and suggests that they participate in some weird form of polygamy strikes me as instability for the sake of having a mentally unstable character.  I’m having difficulty putting my finger on what it is about the way Carol’s written that irks me so much, but I just despise her in the comics.  Maybe because I like TV!Carol so much, the drastically different direction she goes in the comics is pushing my fan rage button.  Maybe I hate seeing someone written as having mental illness just for the sake of having a character who’s ostracized by everyone else and can have a pitiful death (Carol’s suicide by zombie irks me mostly because I just don’t get where it came from; I understand she’s supposed to have lost hope at that point, but what triggered it?).

She’s a difficult character to deal with, partially because I know it’s really hard to treat mental illness with sensitivity in writing, and partially because she strikes me as filling Donna’s role from the first few chapters as the woman that everyone pities but no one really likes because she’s just not living in the same reality as them.

Conversely, Michonne’s weird multiple personality thing (which I could do without, honestly; I like her better on the show where she’s just a very cautious survivalist who’s learning how to trust other survivors) is done pretty well, and doesn’t get reflected as a signifier of a weak character who should be pitied by the readers.  We’re supposed to think she’s crazy, but crazy in a way that’s threatening (which, honestly, is not that much better than crazy in a way that’s pitiful).

Maybe what I’m trying to get at is that I think Kirkman’s kind of clumsy with how he portrays women and people with mental illness.

Also, I get the idea that we’re going for making Rick as miserable as possible, but you know, at some point you have to say, “This character has been through enough.  I’m just going to kill him off and move on to someone else.”  It might be jarring for the readers to lose the main character, but I’m okay with that.  Rick’s suffered enough, and from what I hear he just keeps on suffering for a good long while (also, for what it’s worth, I find it incredibly weird to see so many left-handed people in relation to this series, especially when most of them are forced to be left-handed by… um… circumstances; even as a lefty, depictions of left-handers just look wrong).

So yeah, I’m done.  Unless someone wants to lend me Compendium 2, which I would totally read like right now.

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