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- "KILL THEM ALL!"
- —Brian Blake to his men as they approach the prison.[src]
Brian Blake, better known as Philip Blake or by his epithet "The Governor", is a main character and an antagonist first encountered in Issue 27 of Image Comics' The Walking Dead, as well as the protagonist of The Governor Special. Brian is the first primary antagonist in the Comic Series and one of the protagonists in the novel, Rise of the Governor. He is the brother of Philip and Nina and uncle of Penny. Brian takes his brother's name after Philip dies, and even adapts his personality through an out of body experience, and never revealed his real name to anyone in Woodbury. He served as the primary antagonist from Volume 5: The Best Defense to Volume 8: Made To Suffer. His atrocity and brutal terror towards Rick's group has lingered with them to date.
Prior to his arrival at Woodbury, Brian Blake was nothing like the villain he would become. He was a meek, insecure, and generally good natured man. Weak and cowardly, he was under the constant protection of his cold younger brother, Phillip. His insecurity took it's toll on him as days grew darker and humanity crumbled, and he ultimately succumbed to carnal instincts. To assure he would never be weak, he assumed his brother's identity as Phillip Blake.
As the Governor, Brian drowned in self induced psychopathy. He became convinced that only the Phillip Blakes of society could make it in the world and that the Brians were destined to die. Against his internal ethics, he forced himself to commit atrocities to harden himself for the new world and repress the man who he once was. His true self emerges occasionally against his will, and he struggles with this severe internal conflict throughout his life as the Governor, rendering him insatiably vengeful, belligerent, and paranoid. His thirst for power and blood to constrict the good within him is the dominant driving force of his character. He also showed intensely sexually perverted behaviour, such as raping Michonne and a sexual attraction to his dead niece. Despite his savage and perverse actions, he was a charismatic and well loved leader among the survivors of Woodbury, and was a skilled manipulator, as he never really cared for any of his people and only used them for his own benefit, even when they were attacking Rick's group at The Prison. However, his selfishness and sole goal of seeking revenge on Rick's group and sacrificing many of his own people ultimately led to his demise at the hands of one of his own people, Lilly Caul, who saw Brian for what he really was: a monster.
Brian along with his brother Philip grew up in Waynesboro, Georgia. Although Brian is three years older than Philip, he has always relied on Philip for protection. The novel describes Brian as sickly, frail, and "the runt" of the two brothers. He studied at the University of Georgia and got his degree in comparative literature. He is intelligent, but, unable to harness his wits toward anything productive. At the time of the outbreak, he had failed at several business ventures in Athens that were funded with his parents money. He has a vast knowledge of music and wears band t-shirts throughout the novel (REM and Weezer among them). Just before the outbreak, Brian moves back in with his parents after a brief marriage to a Jamaican woman named Jocelyn.
When the dead began to rise, Brian hides out in the crawlspace of his parents' empty town house. Philip Blake, his two friends Nick Parsons and Bobby Marsh, and his daughter Penny Blake, leave Waynesboro and take a detour to check on Philip's parents. Philip had forgotten that Brian was living there and isn't exactly happy about having to look after his older brother. The group finds shelter at Wiltshire Estates: an upper class gated golfing community. Rick and his group also pass through Wiltshire Estates a few months after Philip and his crew leave. After Bobby dies of blood loss due to a zombie bite, Philip, Nick, Penny, and Brian leave with weapons and supplies loaded up into Philip's Chevy Suburban. On their way out, Brian leaves a sign at the entrance of Wiltshire Estates that reads: "ALL DEAD DO NOT ENTER." Ironically, the sign that the future Governor creates alerts Rick to the dangers of Wiltshire Estates.
Brian and his group, led by Philip, make their way to Atlanta through wrecks and zombies. During this time Brian usually shies away from combat situations. He typically hunkers down with Penny while Philip and Nick shoot and slay zombies. They find a temporary safe haven with the Chalmers family in an apartment in Atlanta. David, Tara, and April Chalmers are traveling musicians who are eking out a living in the first floor of an apartment building. Philip and his group help them expand into the upper levels of the apartment and get food and supplies from nearby stores. Brian becomes slightly more confident in his time at the apartments. He volunteers to clean out the upper floors of the apartment with Philip and Nick. The living arrangement is perfect, until Philip takes his blossoming romance with April too far. As they begin to have sex, April tells Philip to stop and that it's too soon. Philip, in the heat of the moment, refuses to stop. He realizes what he's done immediately after, but, thinks he might still be able to salvage the relationship. The next morning, all of his group's weapons are gone. Tara tells them, at gunpoint, to get out now. They leave and make their way via motorcycle to an abandoned old plantation house. The house is secure and free of zombies, for the most part. They have food to last them through the winter and the house itself is on an orchard. Brian suspects that they were followed to the house and are now being staked out. His suspicions are confirmed when a drug-addled and heavily armed gang come to take the house away from them. Philip makes a deal with the group's leader to let them walk away, but, Philip realizes that the gang plans to kill them as soon as they're out of the house. They sprint down to the orchard where Philip tells Brian to hide with Penny and keep her safe at all costs. Philip and Nick stealthily take out several of the gang members. However, one slips past them and shoots Penny. Just as the shooter is about to execute Brian, Philip arrives and kills the gang member.
Enraged at his daughter's death, Philip begins mercilessly kicking Brian and severely injuring him. Philip cannot bring himself to put Penny down so he keeps her tied to a tree. They leave the plantation house and come across Woodbury: a beat up old town with a fairly large group of survivors. Philip and his crew take residence in an apartment there. Philip sneaks Penny into the apartment and begins feeding her appendages from bodies that he claims he didn't kill. One night, Nick spots Philip dragging a girl out to the woods against her will. He sets out to stop Philip with a shotgun while Brian tries to convince him that whatever it is going on with Philip can be fixed. Nick kills Philip and accidentally kills the girl Philip abducted. Brian kills Nick on the spot. Philip dies in Brian's arms.
The next day there is a town meeting about the rising number of deaths. A group of National Guard soldiers are terrorizing the citizens of Woodbury into obeying their every command. When one old man tries to leave, their leader, Gene Gavin, shoots him in the back of the head. Brian, who always relied on Philip for protection since childhood, begins wondering what Philip would do in this situation. While Gavin's followers are outside, Brian has an out of body experience in which he carries out his vision of what his brother would do. Brian walks toward Gavin and unloads his magazine into him. Brian encourages the people of Woodbury to help him take out the remaining National Guard soldiers. Martinez asks Brian his name. Brian tells Martinez that his name is Philip Blake.
A short time after the initial change of power from Major Gavin to Brian, Lilly Caul and her group consisting of boyfriend Joshua Lee Hamilton, Megan Lafferty and her boyfriend Scott Moon, and Bob Stookey arrived in Woodbury after being convinced to come by Martinez. During this time Gabe and Bruce Allan Cooper have clearly become Brian’s right hand men following him almost everywhere, including his first meeting with Lilly’s group. During this meeting Joshua Lee Hamilton asks if he was some type of elected official, to which Scott Moon adds on saying with Gabe and Bruce following him everywhere like secret service, he looks like a president. Brian responds saying he never saw himself as the chief executive type, and finished saying “I’d be Governor at best.” Shortly after this conversation, Brian started going by the nickname “The Governor.”
After the murder of Joshua Lee Hamilton by the hands of another resident of Woodbury, Sam, Martinez had to physically beat Sam down in order to get him to subdue. During this fight Brian realized that the people of Woodbury seemed to love watching the violent acts, and the fight seemed to act as a form of catharsis for the crowd. Later Brian decided to force Sam to fight to the death in a makeshift arena for the whole town to watch with a surviving national guardsman Stinson, as a form of entertainment for others, and as punishment for his crime, neither man survived. Brian then decided the best way to deter crime in Woodbury would be the threat of being forced to fight to the death.
During this time, Brian also tricks Scott Moon into helping him put several fish tanks from Wal-Mart into his apartment, and immediately afterwards kills Scott and places his head in the first fish tank. This starts a trend with Brian, where he starts to build up a collection of heads in his apartment. It was revealed that Brian collects the heads to stare at until he is no longer scared, and instead "amused" by them. Also during this time, Brian soon befriends Bob Stookey after taking pity on him for reminding him of his own father. He starts letting Bob into his inner circle, and even shows Bob his adopted undead daughter Penny. While hanging out with Bob, Bob confesses he has a crush on the much younger woman Megan Lafferty (who stopped dating Scott Moon a while before his death), to which the Governor takes note of.
After this event, Megan Lafferty (who has taken up prostitution to help her survive) comes to Brian’s house in order to barter sex for possibly marijuana. While having sex, Megan sees Scott Moon’s decapitated head in Brian’s fish tank and has a mental breakdown leading to her eventual suicide. This along with many other events, including the death of Josh Lee Hamilton, leads Lilly Caul to plan a coup on the Governor. Lilly gets the two resident doctors Stevens and Alice, plus one of The Governor’s own right hand men Martinez to help her form a plan. During another of The Governor’s fights, the coup begins.
Walking out of sight dressed in all black and a duster, Brian realizes all too late that an attempt is being made on his life. Martinez and a few of his most loyal men use a taser provided by Stevens and his assistant Alice, to beat down, tie up, duct tape the mouth of, and subdue The Governor while throwing him into the back of a van, and driving off. Inside the back of the van Lilly, Martinez, and another man known as “the Swede” hold hostage Bruce, Gabe, and Brian who are all tied up and gagged. Unfortunately for the insurrectionists, a massive herd of zombies intervenes leading to the death of everyone outside the back of the van. During the chaos, Bruce and Gabe manage to untie themselves and a short firefight takes place between Martinez and the Swede, and Bruce and Gabe which results in the death of the Swede. A Mexican standoff then forms in the back of the van, which is then defused by a then free and participating Brian. The five remaining people agree to work together to get rid of the herd by firing a mortar shell that Martinez had in the back of the van. The resulting noise and flames brings the herd into itself and mostly all die in the fire. The coup having failed, The Governor rounds up the remaining conspirators Lilly, Martinez, Stevens, and Alice, and tell them that if any of them try anything again that they will be killed. Brian, then realizing what the bartering system has led to, quickly tells everyone that the supplies from then on will be distributed equally and everyone must now look after their fellow man to survive.
The Governor speaks to the Woodbury citizens following an arena fight between Bruce and Gabe. He tells them that he understands that supplies are low, and that he is going to send out a group on a supply run. The group returns with Christina and a dead Mike. The two were found in the wreckage of a downed helicopter. The Governor interrogates Christina for information. The Governor, at first, is kind to her, but, as she dodges his questions the Governor puts pressure on her by putting his hand on her leg. She reveals that she and her friend were held up in a news station. The survivors turned on each other leading to death within the camp. Christina and Mike escaped, but, someone sabotaged the helicopter. The Governor stops the interrogation and offers her a chance to join Woodbury. She declines, having been told earlier by Dr. Stevens not to trust him. The Governor says to himself and her that he tried to be good with her and proceeds to choke her to death.
When Rick Grimes, Glenn, and Michonne reach Woodbury, Martinez hands them over to The Governor. The Governor appears friendly at first, but, soon reveals that he intends to feed them to Woodbury's group of captive zombies if they don't tell him where they've been hiding out. Rick, Glenn, and Michonne continually refuse to disclose this information to The Governor. Frustrated over their lack of cooperation, The Governor cuts off Rick's hand to try and intimidate him into giving up the location of their base camp. Seeing The Governor's horrific act, Michonne retaliates by biting off a portion of his ear. After Bruce pries Michonne of him, The Governor has Michonne and Glenn locked away and sends an unconscious Rick to the infirmary.
After having his injury treated by Stevens, The Governor is informed by Bruce that Michonne is ready for interrogation when he wants to proceed. The Governor asks Bruce to immediately show him to Michonne's location so they can begin. After getting Bruce to tie Michonne's legs to the walls, The Governor proceeds to rape and torture Michonne. After finishing up with Michonne, The Governor informs her that he will be back to continue torturing her later before heading back to his apartment. After he arrives, he is rushed by Penny and retaliates by giving his zombified niece a backhand. The Governor apologizes for his actions and notices that Penny has knocked over her food bucket, fixing it for her. Afterwards, he is visited by Gabe who gives The Governor the items he wanted brought to him earlier, including Rick's hand and the zombified heads of some of his victims. The Governor feeds Rick's hand to Penny before adding the zombified heads to his collection of them contained in fish tanks.
Much later, The Governor begins to interrogate Glenn. After Glenn refuses to give in to his demands, The Governor has him moved to a cell adjoining Michonne's cell so he can listen to her screams while The Governor tortures her. After finishing up with Glenn, The Governor resumes his torture of Michonne, once again raping and beating her, all while Glenn is forced to listen from the adjoining room. After finishing with his torture of Michonne, The Governor heads over to Woodbury's clinic to see how Rick is recovering from the loss of his hand. When he arrives, The Governor informs Rick that he will be fighting in the Woodbury arena as soon as he has fully recovered and lies by telling Rick he has let Glenn go free. Rick asks him why he would do such a thing and The Governor responds by telling Rick that Glenn told him everything about his group, including that they are based in a nearby prison, horrifying Rick. The Governor then leaves a speechless Rick to himself in the clinic and discusses his strategy with Bruce and Gabe outside, his men telling him they don't think Rick fell for it. However, The Governor tells them both that he definitely did, saying the expression on Rick's face was more than enough of a giveaway to indicate that his group is indeed based at a nearby prison.
The Governor later pays another visit to Michonne's holding cell. While he is there, instead of torturing her, he gives her a choice to make. The Governor tells her that if she replaces one of his arena fighters, who was murdered, in an upcoming arena fight, he may help her, suggesting a bullet to her head would be his way of saying thanks. If she were to say no, her torture would continue for each day until she could find a way to kill herself. The Governor also informs her that he will even let her use the katana she wields in the arena and then leaves, telling her she has twenty minutes to decide upon her answer. Michonne eventually agrees to The Governor's idea and enters the arena to fight against one of the regular fighters, Eugene Cooney. Much to The Governor and the people of Woodbury's surprise, Michonne decapitates Eugene once the fight starts and kills all of Woodbury's captive zombies. She is eventually subdued by Bruce and Gabe and The Governor, in a rage, almost kills her but relents at the last second. During this time The Governor also has Martinez help Rick and his other group members escape so that they may reveal to location of the prison to him.
After arriving back at his apartment in order to feed Penny parts of Eugene's corpse, he is ambushed by Michonne, having been freed by Rick and Glenn during their escape with Martinez, Stevens, and Alice. The two have a brief standoff before scrambling over Michonne's sword. Michonne manages to gain the upper-hand and knock the Governor unconscious, then proceeding to strip him naked and tie him to his apartment walls ready for torture. From there she proceeded to graphically torture the Governor until near-death: drilling through his shoulder blades, nailing his penis to the wooden flooring, shoving a spoon into his rectum, gouging out his left eye, nearly severing an artery, pulling out his fingernails and cutting off his right arm. Michonne relented upon taking his life, however, wanting the eventual chance to meet and torture him again. Not before long, Bruce and Gabe almost catch her in The Governor's apartment, Michonne escaping just before they could. Not knowing what to do in light of Steven's death and Alice leaving Woodbury, Bruce and Gabe have Woodbury's drunk town medic, Bob Stookey, begin to work on healing The Governor's grievous wounds.
After eventually healing from his wounds sustained by Michonne, The Governor discovers the location and recruits almost everyone from Woodbury to launch an attack on it. He and many citizens from Woodbury drive an armada of vehicles, including a tank, towards the prison and The Governor orders his men to "KILL THEM ALL!".
In a flashback shown in Issue 43, The Governor is shown still recovering from the wounds he suffered at the hands of Michonne. It is during this recovery that he is informed by Bruce of Martinez's death at the hands of the prison group, having uncovered The Governor's plot of using Martinez to spy on them sometime earlier. The Governor has Bruce recover Martinez's body and remove the reanimated head from his corpse, which he presents to the people of Woodbury during one of his speeches in order to rally them to his side against the prison group.
During the time Woodbury was searching for the location of the prison, The Governor uses a tooth plier to remove Penny's teeth, rendering her unable to bite him. With her new found state of harmlessness, The Governor kisses his zombified niece, only to vomit seconds later from the repulsive taste, apologizing to Penny for his actions. Moments later Gabe informs The Governor of an explosion and sounds of gunfire nearby Woodbury, also telling him that Bruce and three other men went to investigate the explosion. The Governor, believing the prison group are responsible, orders Gabe and a few other men to accompany him to the explosion's location. When The Governor, Gabe, and the other men arrive, they find that Bruce and the other Woodbury soldiers have been killed by the prison group, Bruce confirming this in his dying moments. The Governor shoots Bruce in the head to prevent him from reanimating and immediately orders Gabe to follow the prison group's tracks so that they may finally discover the prison's location. Gabe returns to The Governor later that day at Woodbury and informs him that they now known the location of the prison, demanding they go and attack now. The Governor berates him for this strategy, saying their guard will still be up after the shootout with Bruce and the others, making an attack against the prison foolish.
After many weeks of waiting and amassing supplies, The Governor decides to attack the prison, leaving Bob to guard Penny before he makes one last speech to the Woodbury Army and travels with them towards the prison. Once The Governor and his army arrive at the prison he orders them to "KILL THEM ALL!" before they open fire on the prison. After his army unloads a rally of bullets at the prison, The Governor orders them to cease fire. He gives the prison group one last chance to make it easy on themselves and surrender, but this strategy quickly fails as the prison group maintain their ground and return fire at the Woodbury Army, Andrea almost killing The Governor in the process. Noticing that the prison group is using a wall of zombies to surround the prison fences, The Governor devises that while they may not know how to fire the tank, they can use it to clear the amount of zombies around the fences.
Still losing too many of his men at the hands of Andrea in the prison's guard tower, The Governor is forced to retreat from the prison and regroup with his forces. While devising a new plan of attack against the prison, Gabe brings a captured Tyreese to The Governor, telling him that they caught him in the woods after he and Michonne had killed three of Woodbury's soldiers. The Governor demands Gabe tell him what happened to Michonne and he informs The Governor that he blew her brains out. Gabe then presents The Governor with Michonne's sword as proof of this, but the Governor is still sceptical despite the proof.
After briefly interrogating Tyreese, the Governor decides he has no further uses for him and has bound and placed inside once of Woodbury's trucks for transport back to the prison. When The Governor arrives at the prison he immediately hails the group's attention and presents them a bound and gagged Tyreese from outside the prison's fences. The Governor demands the prison group surrender in exchange for Tyreese's life, but they refuse, knowing full well The Governor plans to kill them no matter what. Frustrated over the prison group's decision, The Governor uses Michonne's katana to gruesomely decapitate Tyreese in front of the prison group before hastily retreating back to the rest of his men.
Back at the Woodbury camp near the prison, the Governor is ambushed by a surviving Michonne, holding him at gunpoint before the rest of his men. Gabe fires off a shot and she quickly tries to move out of the way, causing the shot to pierce through the Governor's face inflicting a minor wound. Unable to locate Michonne and out of time to devise another plan of attack on the prison, the Governor rallies his surviving people for one final attack.
Once the final attack on the prison begins, the Governor's forces are met with harsh resistance from the prison group, with Gabe being killed almost as soon as the attack starts. Feeling he is losing too many men, The Governor resorts to desperate tactics and uses Woodbury's tank to ram through the prison fences, allowing both his men and dozens of zombies access to inside the prison. The Governor and his men quickly begin to kill of members of the prison group, with The Governor personally finishing off a wounded Alice. The Governor orders Lilly Caul to fire upon Lori Grimes and she does so with the shot killing her instantly. The Governor then proceeds to finish off Hershel Greene who begs him to end his life after the death of Billy Greene. Lilly then begins to frantically panic, realizing she also killed Judith Grimes after shooting Lori. This causes her to hold The Governor at gunpoint, but not before long a large group of zombies knock her focus off him and he manages to disarm her rifle. The Governor then tries to rally his people to follow him to fight off the zombie horde, but Lilly pulls out her pistol and shoots him in the back of the head instead, kicking his still living body into the zombie horde not moments after to allow herself and the other surviving Woodbury soldiers time to escape.
Lilly is horrified after realizing that she's killed Lori and her baby, Judith. Enraged with The Governor for making her kill them, she shoots him in the head and shoves him into the horde of zombies, who proceed to devour him.
This list shows the victims Brian has killed:
- Nick Parsons
- Gene Gavin
- Trey Barker
- Sam (Caused)
- Stinson (Caused)
- Scott Moon (Alive)
- Megan Lafferty (Indirectly Caused)
- Manning (Caused or Direct)
- Tommy Zorn (Caused)
- Christina Meredith Haben (Alive)
- Bruce Allan Cooper (Before Reanimation)
- Arlo Simmons (Before Reanimation)
- Johnny Aldridge (Before Reanimation)
- Evan (Before Reanimation)
- Ronnie (Before Reanimation)
- Alex (Before Reanimation)
- Jake (Before Reanimation)
- Andy (Before Reanimation)
- Tyreese (Alive)
- Axel (Caused)
- Gus Strunk (Caused)
- Patricia (Caused)
- Billy Greene (Caused)
- Alice Warren
- Lori Grimes (Caused)
- Judith Grimes (Caused, Accidental)
- Hershel Greene
- Numerous counts of zombies and unnamed people. (Caused and Direct)
- The Governor is the first major recurring antagonist in the Comic Series, the second being Negan and the third being Alpha.
- He also has the shortest lifespan out of the three major antagonists.
- Brian is one of the few characters Robert Kirkman misses, and even regrets killing.
- Robert Kirkman revealed that he named Philip (at the time of his first appearance as he was known) after a bully with the same name who used to pick on Robert during his childhood.
- In 2009, Brian was ranked as IGN's 86th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.
- In a Comic Book Resources interview, Robert Kirkman jokingly said: "A lot of different characters have aspects of my personality, I think, but for the most part, I'm just making people up. Not one character is exclusively based on one person. Except for The Governor, who is exactly like Joe Quesada [editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics]. They are literally exactly the same."
- According to Rise of the Governor, Brian is "barely" 5'7" in height with his boots on.
- Regarding the torture and medical care of The Governor, Robert Kirkman wrote: "It wasn't that Bob was such a good medic that suddenly came out of nowhere that saved Governor's life-although he certainly did save his life. The idea is that Michonne was keeping The Governor alive, so she could torture him more. His wounds were bad, but not impossible to heal from."
- Brian, along with Rick, Andrea, Michonne, Abraham, Negan, and Alpha have killed the most named characters, either as a zombie or as a living person.
- Out of all of them, Brian has killed/caused the death of the most named characters in the series.
- Brian had mentioned that he had attempted cannibalism.
- Brian's kiss with Penny shows one of several incidents that survivors can not turn by exchanging body fluids.
- The kiss was also an indication to show the reader how bad things could get within his story arc, mentioned by Kirkman.
- He also shows necrophiliac, incestuous and pedophiliac tendencies by kissing Penny on the lips.
- Brian has survived most injuries than any other character. These injuries include such as:
- Gunshots (Shot to the chest and head)
- Amputations (Arm, ear, both eyes and possibly penis)
- Scalds (Nubs of amputated limbs burned in order to stop a bleeding)
- Stabs (Drilled to shoulder, rectum violated)
- Hits, kicks, dislocations of limbs (Beaten almost to death by Philip and Michonne)
- Bites (To neck and ear)
- Heavy blood losses
- Long falls
- Brian is one of three characters in The Walking Dead Universe to receive an eye injury, the other three being his TV Series counterpart, Carl Grimes (along with his TV Series counterpart,) and Kenny from the Video Game.
- The Governor is one of the two people in the Comic Series to lose an eye, Carl being the second.
- The Governor lost his left eye which is opposite of Carl who lost his right.