The Allied Forces of Rick Grimes continue their march to war against the Axis Powers of Negan and the Saviors in THE WALKING DEAD #110.
The story picks up right where it ended last month, as Jesus realizes that Kal has left to reveal Rick’s plan to the Saviors. Racing on horseback to stop him, he arrives just before the Saviors do, and is relieved to find that Kal can’t bring himself to betray Rick’s intentions. Once the Saviors have gone, Kal explains that his hatred of them has grown to outweigh his fear. What was once something to fear has become something to hate and to oppose. These panels do a masterful job of conveying that concept through Kal’s shame at the actions he intended to take, which is apparent in his words and in his face. It’s a marvelous marriage of writing and artwork from Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard.
Preparations for the attack continue with Rick as he confides in Eugene, whose work on ammunition replenishment continues. Like Kal before his change of heart, Eugene believes that keeping the peace between his group and the Saviors is the best option for continued survival. Unlike Kal, however, Eugene is still not committed to Rick’s plan when their conversation comes to a close. It’s an effective juxtaposition between the two. Kal has made decision to fight the evil that Negan and the Saviors represent, while Eugene is allowing his fear of that evil to control him and endorse appeasing it. His pensively looking on as Rick leaves him behind to take a group to the Kingdom indicates his decision may not bode well for the upcoming confrontation.
Eventually, Rick’s group arrives at the Kingdom to assist with battle readiness. After some initial moments of tension between Ezekiel and Michonne, the group settles in for the night and shares a meal with Ezekiel’s community. This leads to a great exchange between Michonne and Ezekiel that allows a deeper exploration of his character. More details about him are revealed as he drops the pretense of being king and tells Michonne of his personal history, including how he became king and a rather touching tale of how exactly he came to possess Shiva, his tiger.
Their conversation goes a long way toward making what appears at first glance to be a novelty character a more believable presence in this world, and proves that there is a deliberate method to his kingdom brand of madness. It also goes a long way towards illustrating his intelligence and insightfulness, as he uses the old phrase, “You can’t bullshit a bullshitter” to provide a fairly accurate analysis of Michonne to great effect, even eliciting a rare smile from her in the process.
But aside from establishing a connection between the two characters, Ezekiel and Michonne’s talk also serves as a brief, albeit effective commentary on the power of reinvention and how legends come to be in this new world. With modern society destroyed, what exactly emerges to take its place? The new politics of THE WALKING DEAD’s world are being explored in some depth over the last few months, and Ezekiel’s explanation of the Kingdom’s origins makes it clear that the freedom that comes with the opportunity for reinvention without society’s checks and balances can result in triumph, or in Negan’s case, tragedy.
It’s an interesting concept to ponder. Given the opportunity to reinvent yourself without having to worry about any of the consequences that modern legal systems impose, would you indulge in your wildest fantasies, or deepest depravities?
Next Month: If the preview art is any indication, things are going to get very bloody very quickly. Negan is back, and it looks like he’s enjoying himself. Here’s hoping Rick and company finally make him pay for what he’s done. But not too quickly, because I’m really enjoying this storyline.