The Walking Dead, “The Best Defense”
In what has to be the most chilling entry in The Walking Dead, Rick and his band of survivors discover that they aren’t alone. After spotting a helicopter crashing nearby, Rick, Michonne and Glenn follow the plume of smoke only to discover the transport empty, but surrounded by half a dozen bootprints. Travelling to the nearby town of Woodbury, Rick is shocked to see another human settlement led by a man who calls himself The Governor. As welcoming as this man is to Rick and his friends, all is not what it seems. Despite having medical facilities and armed guards, the Governor runs Woodbury as his own personal kingdom, offering up gladiatorial-style fights that pit humans against zombies. In a shocking display of mindless violence in order to determine the location of Rick’s prison, the Governor cuts the policeman’s hand clean off, forces Michonne to endure brutal and agonizing rape and locks Glenn up in solitary confinement next to her cell. The three manage to endure their harsh confinement long enough for the Governor to attempt to trick Rick into revealing the location of the prison by suggesting that Glenn has told him everything.
Adults: Rick, Lori, Allen, Donna, Carol, Shane, Jim, Andrea, Amy, Glenn, Dale, Tyreese, Julie, Chris, Hershel, Billy, Maggie, Otis, Patricia, Axel, Michonne.
Children: Carl, Sophia, Billy, Ben
Few villains in the history of comics have sent more shivers down my spine than the Governor. This is a man who is clearly mad with power, who willingly keeps a zombie child in his home (whom he feeds the body parts of strangers or those that lose arena fights) and entertains himself by watching the gurgling decapitated heads of zombies in rows of fish tanks. He is very much the opposite of Rick, who is a compassionate soul who is willing to do what he can, within reason, to protect the people under his care. The Governor has given up any semblance of humanity, choosing to exploit his position of power and becoming a heartless figure who has no problem committing horrible atrocities in order to secure his rule.
When I first read this volume, I couldn’t believe what happened to Rick. It made me realize how easy it is to take basic medical care for granted. Rick was fortunate that the Governor had doctors under in his employ, but with prosthetics or reattachment out of the question, Rick’s life will never be the same after having been mutilated. I still get chills thinking about him losing his hand so mindlessly.
This is by far the most disturbing volume to view because of all the horrible violence committed by the Governor. Between the loss of Rick’s hand,and Michonne’s battered body, Adlard’s artwork gets more and more uncomfortable to flip through. The Governor’s act of feeding his dead child Rick’s hand is, well, pretty messed up.