The Walking Dead Makes Me Angry (Spoilers!)


There are spoilers in this article. If you don't want to be spoiled don't read it. I am serious, don't blame me if you read it and you are spoiled. I will have no sympathy.




The Walking Dead has pissed me off more than any of my favorite comics. There are several different kinds of “pissed off” that I have experienced at the masterful hands of Kirkman, Moore, and Adlard. Each brand is unique evidence of what a great story this series has become. There are books that almost become a living thing. We, as readers, develop a real relationship with the series. Part of having a relationship is that the person on the other side develops the uncanny ability to cause great anger in you. The Walking Dead can push my buttons.


The first button they found was the Death Button. There have been deaths in The Walking Dead that have really pissed me off. Moments that have made me put down the book and really question whether or not I wanted to keep reading. For a long time comic book fan, who has read a lot of super hero books, it isn't easy to push me to the edge with dead characters. Death in Big Two comics has reached a ritualistic level. An event arrives. The readers need to be convinced that this story, that has been years in the making, is SERIOUS. Serious in superhero comics means that a slightly beloved B level character is going to die. The solicitations are going to make sure that we know that someone is going to die. A bunch of morose characters standing around, a figure in shadow, maybe even a blank profile of the heroic victim. To find out who, you got to read the book. Death isn't a surprise. The character isn't even that big of surprise.


Walking Dead has brought death back to life in comics for me. ZOMBIE JOKE! The entire book is an event. Every character is in danger, all the time. Children, wives, friends, enemies, all of them could die at any moment. Hell, I thought Rick was going to die at one point. How many comics can actually get you to think that the main character could actually die? Lori and Judith's death had the emotional impact that superhero comics wish they could still generate. I was filled with anger. Real genuine anger. I can't remember the last time a comic made me feel that strongly.


Then there is that damn telephone. Every time Rick reaches into his bag to grab the phone, I get pissed off. Way back in issue #51 Carl and Rick have to take shelter in an abandoned home. Rick, on the verge of losing his mind, answers a ringing phone and has a conversation with a woman who has a group of fourteen people looking for help. There is back and forth, and the next day when she calls she reveals that she is Lori, Rick's dead wife. I just about dropped the book there. I knew it was just a figment of Rick's imagination, but it broke one of the rules of The Walking Dead universe that has made it so successful. Everything you see on the page happens. There won't be a retcon or unexpected reveal about what REALLY happened to Lori. To see the word balloons of Lori's half of the phone conversation seemed cheap to me. Since when can we hear Rick's thoughts? It completely shattered the suspended bridge where I had parked my reality car.


Yet…I kept reading. I trust Kirkman and Adlard. The Walking Dead is the singular vision of a creator and that means that there isn't someone hovering over them making sure that the book hits certain marks. There is no safety net. If Kirkman goes too far off the rails there isn't anyone there to drop him in favor of a new creator. If he wants to suddenly shift the rules of the universe to allow us to see Rick's mental breakdown, then it happens. You either ride with it or you jump off. An indie book can have really low points, but it can also have incredible pay offs. One has to exist for the other to happen. That's the rhythm of a book like The Walking Dead.


The book follows its own flow. It doesn't have to switch creative teams every year to get juice back to the title. There isn't someone new trying to make their stamp on that universe every year. The Walking Dead universe just exists. There are lulls to the story and breakneck moments. Like any great epic story it moves to a more natural pace. Rick and company will have their hanging with Tom Bombadil moments every couple months, but you know something twisted is just around the corner.


They are going to find safety from the zombies only to be threatened by humans. They will become comfortable, only to have the swift reminder that the zombies are still nearby. Mixed into that ebb and flow is the startling changes of the characters over such a long period of time. It has been gut wrenching to see Rick come to terms with what he has become in the last couple of issues. A man of the law who seems to have found his role as an executioner. The last judge of who lives and who dies and the one with guts to carry out the decision. I get angry on behalf of Rick. Rick has had to go to some dark places. HAD TO. You don't go there and come back the same. His son Carl, has taken on the same traits. A miniature Rick who can't go back to just being a kid. There isn't going to be a happy ending to this story. Things won't return to normal. That is really messed up but awesome to read.


Here is to the TV show being just as successful at pissing me off and making me love it for the experience. Now that it is on TV it can piss off  my family and friends. We can all sit around like jilted lovers and get ready for the horrors that will be unleashed upon our feelings. It is great to see a piece of art that you love on the verge of even greater success. Though the selfish fan part of me is a little angry about sharing.


Tom Katers is dressing as Teddy Roosevelt…today.


  1. I have a love/hate relationship with this story too.  It’s kind of exhilerating to know that even Kirkman might not know where he’s going or if he’s taking the ‘right’ steps.  I swear I remember an interview where he expressed doubt over his choice to have Rick lose his hand.  This isn’t superhero comics – his hand isn’t going to be magically regrown, nor will he get a golden hand and then start freebasing off an  iPad.  So, preach on brother Tom.  It’s like were jilted lovers who just can’t stay away because the lovin is oh so good. 

  2. I remember when they reached the prison and decided to make it their new home, and they’re all happy and everything’s going so well… I was so invested in the characters that I was happy too, but angry as well, because it was the first time I realised that for everything good that happens to them, something equally bad is waiting in the wings. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that way from reading any other comic book.

  3. i agree, I love the fact that creater owned linear stories, especially in this case, force the writer to make decisions that will PERMINENTLY affect or alter the character.  I trust Kirkman, and i know that his writing is designed to make me get comfortable and then slap me across the face for doing so.  I loved the lori telephone.  I like to think he is possbily speaking her parts out loud to himself, interpreting them as her. I especially loved carl’s reaction to Rick revealing the phone. 

    Either way, Walking dead made me go from a big 2 only reader, to reading some of the greatest creater owned stuff.

  4. I agree 100% with the love/hate comments. The page with the decapitated children almost did me in completely, only to be rewarded by Lori & Judith’s death. It’s extremely affecting.

    Until Sunday (is it Sunday yet?) we won’t really get to see how far AMC is going to be able to go with some of this stuff (and really we won’t get much until deep into the TV series anyway). I don’t mean to be cynical at all and this alone wouldn’t make me a hater but I seriously doubt they’ll be able to work all of the stuff that angered you onto TV. It would make Don Draper cry.

  5. @donzacharia – I’ve seen it.  They do it.  Don Draper still gets laid, so it’s ok.