No Hope: Why I Don’t Read the Walking Dead Anymore

The Walking Dead - 100 - Rick - No Hope

SPOILER WARNING: If you have not read up to issue #100 of The Walking Dead (and don’t want to be spoiled) stop here. You’ve been warned.

For 100 issues, I stuck with Rick Grimes and the gang through thick and thin. From the early days of Shane to tragic losses in the prison and all the way to our favorite survivors finding Jesus; I’ve been there. I was an early reader of the series all the way back to around issue 7 or so. I remember seeing the first trade on the shelf next to the seventh issue and seeing the opportunity to move beyond Marvel, DC and even the new to me world of Vertigo that I had been into up until that point. I cracked open the pages of the Walking Dead and was riveted. Years went by and its popularity grew by leaps and bounds…and then came the tv show.

As it stands, I’m still an avid viewer of the Walking Dead television show, but the comic has lost me as a reader. Leading up to issue 100, I was excited. The ‘Hunters’ arc was a short but riveting lead-up to what I hoped would be the start of an epic arc in the 100th issue. What I got was a sequence that beat my soul and left it by the side of the road. First, a little context. I am no stranger to savage and brutal moments in comics. I read Crossed on regular basis and have journeyed into the twisted world of Neonomicon. To say that the world of transgressive comic book storytelling is new to me would be a complete and utter falsehood.

Now, I don’t want to spoil the Walking Dead for anyone who has not yet begun the series or anyone who hasn’t caught up to at least he 100 installment of the title, so consider this your final SPOILER WARNING. The issue in question is marked by the death of a beloved character. Now, we’ve seen many of the main cast come and go. We’ve witnessed Tyrese’s savage beheading, Lori and the baby taken out by gunfire, Dale succumb to a walker bite and countless other cruel ends; but the death of Glenn was an especially sadistic way to go. Series artist Charlie Adlard sold the scene with his simple linework and an expression on Glenn’s face that nearly left me in tears.

I have to fess up and say that Glenn was always my favorite character in the series because of our similarities. Without trying to sound too smug, we’re not the strongest or fastest of the group that we are with, but we’re brave, clever and unflinchingly loyal. In the time that I’ve read the series, I’ve grown and matured much like Glen has in his environment. So to see a character person meet his end so unceremoniously left me cold. Now, I know that a large theme of the Walking Dead is the inhumanity with which we can treat each other, but I think I hit my breaking point with issue 100. Glenns death is emblematic to me of what I perceive is wrong with the series. Many may resort to reductive reasoning of, ‘You’re too sensitive’ or ‘That’s the point of the story’ but you’d be wrong to do so. As I mentioned, none of this (brutality of the story or transgressive themes) is new to me, but for the first time ever I was moved to not follow this story. The deftness of storytelling and conveyance of the emotion of his death was too much for me, so I have to walk away.

As I grow older and try to become more positive about life in general, I just can’t find it in me to continue reading an ongoing piece of fiction with such little inherent hope. I can’t deny that it’s a great book, but I also can’t deny that every issue progressively leaves me more emotionally drained. That’s not what I want out of my comic-reading experiences right now, so I’ll have to part ways with Kirkman and Adlard for some time.

I can’t say it was fun while it lasted, but it sure was riveting.

Categories: Comic Books, Rant

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4 replies

  1. I won’t lie. I left the series at the exact same time for the exact same reason. I had grown to associate most with Glenn and when that happened (and in such a brutal way) I felt a little betrayed by Kirkman. I felt like he had killed Glenn just for the sake of it’s shock value. I completely feel the same way as this author who has grown with the character too, but I don’t feel like Kirkman or his world have grown.

    When no one in the TWD world is growing (‘cept Glenn) it’s hard to keep reading, especially when the depravity of the world keeps growing worse. I feel like they’re all supposedly trying to make the world a better place, but no one actually does it. They just kill and be killed. It get’s old. There seems to be no growth. And then to so unceremoniously kill off one of the only characters growing, you’ve lost me. I have no more reason to stay.

  2. Thanks for the comment. It’s difficult stepping away from the comic as it was a a fascinating entry into survival fiction when it first came out. Unfortunately, as you said, the characters stopped growing. The title has become a place simply for fear and misery-porn. As I said in my piece, I can appreciate transgressive and brutal fiction, but it just hit a tipping point for me to read and ongoing story of such a brutal nature. I can take similar themes/actions from time to time, but it just became to much for me.

    That said, I will probably return some day to read TWD again, but it won’t be for a while.

  3. I’m sorry to say, but I feel you’re leaving the comic for the wrong reasons. It’s perfectly understandable to be angry, frustrated, even heartbroken by the loss of a character, especially one as beloved as Glenn. And I agree with the above commenter that the story has been at a bit of a stand still lately. It’s hard to keep the comic moving when none of the characters are given the opportunity to grow, while the one’s who have are taken out. But there is a bright side to the loss of Glenn. The fewer characters there are to write about, then the more time that can be spent on the one’s who exist. With Glenn gone, Kirkman has been doing a good job at building the change occurring in Rick and Carl’s relationship, and he’s really giving Carl more attention than he has in the past. Also, you have to remember that as affected as we are by Glenn’s death, the characters in the series are most likely affected even more, which leads to further character development and further changes.

  4. Hans, I took stock of a lot of the elements of the series before quitting. I’ve never been one to just up and leave series’ because a favorite character died/was killed and I obviously in accurately expressed that Glenns death was the main reason. For me, I was moving in the direction of dropping the title as each installment was just more and more bleak. If you read my piece, you’ll see that I’ve been with the title almost since it’s inception and have read religiously even after beloved characters (Tyrese, Dale, etc) bit the big one.

    Unfortunately, Glenns death/murder was carried out in such a way that was emblematic to me of what I don’t like about the series anymore. I get the ‘no one is safe’ vibe that runs through each and every issue, but I came to a point where I was enjoying that less and less. I’ve just come to a point in my life (not saying I’m better or worse than anyone, I’m just saying) where I couldn’t stomach the violence of the series anymore. As I said, I’ve never quit any series or hated a movie just because my favorite character died. I just don’t want this vibe month in, month out hanging in my psyche.

    I don’t think there is any WRONG reason to leave a series or start a series. You do what you want in regards to consuming creative output because that’s what you feel or a are driven to feel. I’ve gotten a lot of flack (on Reddit, I saw some guy posted a link to the article and I was ripped to shreds for my reasons) for my line of reasoning, but I stand by it. If someone like myself, who is no stranger to, and usually a fan of, this kind of story-telling decides to end it; then I see no problem.

    I gave the title 100 issues. I read it for about ten years. I think that’s long enough to prove that I duked it out for a bit.

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