Doubletake: The Walking Dead Volume 9

The Walking Dead, “Here We Remain”

After the devastating attack on the prison by the Governor from Woodbury that claimed the lives so many, Rick and Carl find themselves adrift. The two claim an abandoned house in order to rest and regroup, but they find it difficult to cope with the loss of Lori and Judith. When Rick succumbs to a fever from injuries sustained in the prison battle, Carl is forced to see the world for what it is and the face the possibilities of life without his father. Thankfully, a steady dose of medication allows Rick to recover from his illness. For the most part, life is seemingly uneventful as Rick attempts to hone Carl’s survival skills but it is not long before things take an odd turn when the house phone rings. Rick is thrilled to hear the voice of another survivor and asks to join her group, only to be denied. After a few days of conversation, Rick asks for the woman’s name and is shocked to hear the name “Lori.” Despite ripping the phone cord from the wall, he can still hear the voice of his dead wife.

Disturbed by this, Rick and Carl pack their things and leave using an abandoned car near the house, using it as an opportunity to teach Carl to drive, but the lesson is cut short by an attack from roamers and are rescued at the last minute by Michonne. The three eventually meet up with Glenn and Maggie who have been holed up with Dale, Andrea, Sophia and the twins at Hershel’s farm. After a tearful and somber reunion, Rick patrols the farm’s perimeter and catches Michonne talking to herself and although she initially denies it, Michonne tells him she is speaking to her dead boyfriend. Rick understands and tells her about his phone call with Lori, showing the phone he took from the house on the day he and Carl left.

The next morning, Rick is woken up by the sounds of gunfire as Andrea keeps three human survivors attempting to loot Hershel’s barn at bay. After a tense standoff, the survivors, Sergeant Abraham Ford, Rosita Espinosa and Doctor Eugene Porter, reveal their honest intentions of seeking supplies for a trip to Washington D.C. where Porter hopes to find a science lab in order to study and cure the plague. Porter claims knowledge of the outbreak, further revealing that he was part of the science team developing a similar biological attack. This angers Rick and his group, but after much deliberation (and a few zombie attacks), they ultimately decide to pack up and head out to Washington D.C. with Abraham’s crew.

Survivors

Adults: Rick, Andrea, Glenn, Dale, Maggie, Michonne, Abraham, Rosita, Eugene
Children: Carl, Sophia, Billy, Ben

Thoughts

After the violent, maddening storm that was volume eight, “Hear We Remain” is a much more quiet affair for several reasons: we are given a chance to catch our breath after the culling of Rick’s survivors and it allows for the father/son bond between Rick and Carl to grow. Up until now, Rick has had the best interests of the group in mind and didn’t have many moments with Carl, opting to have others look after him while he went out to gather supplies. I’m glad that they finally have this moment together, but the circumstances are certainly a shame. While his father was ill, Carl experiences a moment of not wanting to be afraid any longer, that he wants to be a much stronger person, should his father die. However, he does falter a bit when he believes Rick has become a zombie, asking what he thinks is a roamer to just get on with it and eat him. But with Rick cured and things quieting down, they can focus on each other.

After the emotional trauma he suffered at the prison, Rick is beginning show signs of change. Although he seemed to understand that no one was going to save them and the government wasn’t coming to help, he still held out hope that as a group, they could all pull together and survive. With Lori and his daughter dead and the group dispersed, Rick is becoming more world weary and, quite possibly, slipping into some sort of madness that is hinted by his telephone conversation with his dead wife. Madness? Or grief? He uses the time to apologize for Lori for failing to protect her, so perhaps this is a sort of defense mechanism? Another instance of this new Rick is his final speech with Carl, telling him that no matter what, no matter how secure they find themselves and how many humans they surround themselves with, they are never safe.

Artwork

There’s really nothing in particular to note in this volume except that the artwork mirrors the feeling of weariness and hopelessness expressed by the characters. There are very little smiles to be found here. As much as I didn’t care for the artist’s heavy use of shadows and putting characters in darkness, I felt it was pretty effective in this volume, specifically the shots of Rick curled up next to the telephone.