WARNING: This text was not written by me, but I agree with everything this guy said and I wanted to share with you guys. I always said here how the comics disappointed me from the A Larger World arc to present, but I never managed to explain it correctly. Here is an explanation, I hope we can have a calm discussion about this and agree that the comics have been going downhill since issue 80something.
5 WAYS TO SAVE "THE WALKING DEAD", by Iann Robinson.
There was a time when Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead seemed like an unstoppable force. I’m not referring to the popular TV show, but rather the comic on which the ratings monster is based. Long before the cool kids were hunkered down in front of their plasma screens cheering on Rick Grimes and his crew of haggard post-zombie apocalypse survivors, there were those of us who loved the comic.
Every month, sometimes every two or three, I would head to my local comic book store in New York City and pick up The Walking Dead. I’ve been collecting since issue two and even have a coveted issue #1. For the last decade, I have followed The Walking Dead with great passion. Even in times of financial strain, this series made my buy list. It seemed as though Robert Kirkman’s well of creativity would never end.
Sadly, that was not to be.
The problems with The Walking Dead started almost immediately after the final confrontation with the Governor, but the series has reached a nadir of mediocrity since issue #85. Boring plots, repetitive scenarios and characters, all leading to the scrotum-punishing moment of failure known as the 100th issue. Not only did we suffer the cheap murder of Glenn Rhee, but also the introduction to the infuriatingly mediocre Negan, a villain who is nothing more than the cheap reflection of the Governor. Not wanting to give up on The Walking Dead altogether, I did some thinking and came up with five easy steps toward reinvigorating the comic series and bringing back its former glory.
5. Return To The Core Characters
During the prison story arc we really go to know the core characters. We were introduced to Michonne, the relationship between Glenn and Maggie grew, Rick and Lori started straightening their lives out, so much happened that centered on these few characters. Post-prison riot, the character list for The Walking Dead has grown more extensive but less effective. The group Rick and his friends met on the road, the people behind the gated community, the whole population of the new community presence Jesus brought to them and, of course, Negan’s crew.
There is too much happening within the series and it’s killing our ability to care about anybody. The Walking Dead has become lost in its need to expand the character list in order to create a new collection of people Rick and his friends don’t trust. I’m not saying only the core characters forever, but let’s return them to the main stage for awhile. Create an arc that has to do with Rick, Michonne, Carl, Andrea and Maggie. The arc can remain inside the gated community, but let us have some time with those who we care for the most. It might also help redirect the story to the human focus it seems to have lost.
4. Uh, Now, There Will Be Zombies During The Zombie Apocalypse, Right?
Remember zombies? I do. I remember that zombies used to pour from every single corner they could hide from. Whenever the heroes went anywhere, some kind of living dead creature would lurk from the darkness and cause havoc. Now, with all stories pointed towards melodrama or “crazy” group leaders, the zombies have become white noise. Kirkman has them moving in the background but not in the shadows. There’s no surprise to them anymore, no sense of tension about how we don’t know where one will be.
Instead, Kirkman has turned the undead into the biggest street gang in history. Now they move in packs, they surround characters and move like armies from all points. If they’re not in groups, then zombies are mostly used for filler pages. It’s time to have an arc focused on zombies. Have Carl get lost and face them alone. Have Rick caught in an abandoned building with a pack of zombies. Even better, how about the core group goes to a city and has to make their way through zombies. Seriously, the zombie apocalypse comic book needs more zombies.
3. Bring Back Tony Moore (or at least change it up a bit)
While his art only graced issues one through six, Tony Moore’s work is still sorely missed. Go back to those initial issues, look at how Moore pencils the characters. Unlike current artist Charlie Adlard, Moore knew how to work within black and white and still give the characters a different look. Adlard’s work is too similar, each of his characters tend to look the same. As Kirkman’s stories get bigger and his character pool expands, Adlard’s limitations become more prevalent. I realize that there is some bad blood between Kirkman and Moore, but for the good of The Walking Dead series, let the original artist back into the fold.
If constant contributions from Moore are not in the cards, the idea of varied artists should be. Even if Charlie Adlard didn’t make everybody look the same, his style has grown boring to look at. The Walking Dead is a big enough property that any artist would be excited to pencil an issue or even a whole story arc. Imagine a Greg Capullo issue, or Yanick Paquette. Think how awesome it would be if Jim Lee, Frank Quitely, Humberto Ramos, Walt Simonson or any number of amazing artists put their stamp on The Walking Dead. If nothing else, it would give readers a break from Adlard’s largely uninteresting pencils.
2. Kill Rick Grimes
I know, I know, blasphemy, but seriously, what’s left for Rick to accomplish? He’s led the group this far and his reactions to things have become fairly easy to predict. One hundred issues ago, Rick was a new character, somebody we enjoyed peeling the layers away from to see what made him tick. At this point, Rick’s too easy a fall back position for every issue. It would be nice to see how the group reacts with Rick gone, whether dead or something drives him away from the group.
The fertile creative soil for that is staggering. Carl dealing with the loss (or abandonment) of his father. Michonne and Andrea each vying for the leader position. If Rick is killed by another human, the search for vengeance could be one of the best arcs The Walking Dead has exploited since the prison. If Rick simply left, then his return is another amazing story waiting to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I like Rick, but it’s time that The Walking Dead saw a new direction.
1. Robert Kirkman Steps Down
Okay, more blasphemy. Think about it though. One hundred issues. Robert Kirkman has written one hundred issue of The Walking Dead. Very few comic book writers can claim one hundred issues, and even less remain on a book after hitting that number. It’s clear from the last thirty issues that Kirkman is running out of ideas. Couple that with his sudden immersion in the Walking Dead TV series and you have a man in crisis. He needs to sacrifice something and, clearly, he’s chosen the comic version.
Some fresh blood might be just the thing to get the series back on track. Image Comics could draw from a mix of well known writers and indie guys. Imagine a Scott Snyder Walking Dead story, or Jonathan Hickman. I’d love to read a Carl-specific story line penned by Chris Ware, or a story with Michonne from Dan Slott. These writers would bring a new perspective, fresh ideas and a varied attitude to the entire project. Let the next hundred issues be handled by different writers and then have Kirkman return for the last hundred. It could be epic.
I know these ideas will never come to fruition, which is too bad. Something needs to happen with The Walking Dead. There’s no way this series can limp through another two hundred issues. Not when you have characters like Negan and Ezekiel. Not when your stories always consist of running afoul of some new group of people. The Walking Dead needs a change. We deserve it as readers and the series deserves it as a cultural touchstone.
(Ian Robinson's page: http://www.craveonline.com/author/iann-robinson)