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.