Just in time for the return of AMC’s The Walking Dead this weekend, Image has released this special to remind people why Michonne is this series’ um, AWESOMEST character. There is just something you almost can’t even put your finger on about her. She saunters in, so mysteriously, enshrouded in a rain poncho, leading two zombie “pets” and wielding a samurai sword like a natural born killer. She’s just a badasst. She’s one of comics’ most amazing characters and this issue takes previously released material and remixes it into an origin story. This is a little SPOILER-Y if you aren’t already a reader of the series, so beware.
In a tale originally printed in Playboy magazine (REALLY?!), we see Michonne, a successful lawyer scrambling through the streets in her classy business suit and high heel pumps, narrowly avoiding the sudden horde. She gets to her boyfriend Mike’s house, where he and his roommate Terry are still alive, but as Michonne enters, Mike gets bitten by a zombie while they struggle to shut the door. Michonne treats the wound, unaware that Mike will now turn. (Creator Robert Kirkman has stated that in this world, zombie fiction doesn’t exist so these people aren’t aware of the typical tropes.)
Michonne then ventures back out to scavenge food from her neighbors’ houses. In one house she finds a collection of samurai swords and selects one. Outside, the zombies amass, so she locks herself in for the night. The next day, she returns to Mike’s and finds that not only has he turned, but he’s bitten and turned Terry. She locks them away and stays shut inside until her food supply runs out. She then makes a wise observation, that the zombies don’t attack one another. She formulates her plan to neutralize Mike and Terry by cutting off their jaws and arms and shackling them to he like pets. Their scent masks her to the others. (Where she found those chains and collars isn’t explained though. Did Mike have an S&M dungeon?)
This sequence was new to me, as surprisingly, I don’t read Playboy. It’s narrated in first person, but then shifts to second person toward the end. It’s a tad choppy there, but it’s not that big a deal.
Then the book seques into ‘The Walking Dead’ #19, her first comic book appearance. She is walking with her two pets, killing any zombies that get too close, when she spots Otis on his wagon returning from the Farm to the Prison. (If you’re only familiar with the TV version, Otis is vastly different here and survived a bit longer.) We cut to the Prison, where Rick has previously faced down Dexter, the leader of the prisoners who live there and who welcomed Rick and his people to stay. Rick suspected Dexter of killing Hershel’s two young daughters, which turned out not to be the case. Now Dexter wants them out, aiming a rifle at Lori and Carl.
When Rick questions where Dexter got his weapons, Dexter cops to not revealing part of the prison to the newcomers. But he’s made a mistake as “Roamers” as they called them at the time, come spilling out into the prison yard. The two opposing sides have to come together to take them out.
Otis arrives but with all the commotion inside, can’t get anyone to let him in. He gets swarmed, so it’s Michonne to the rescue, as she slices away at the dozens of Roamers moving in on them.
In the prison yard, things are getting chaotic. In the commotion, Dexter is shot in the head. WHAAAAA–?! “Must have caught a stray bullet,” Rick mumbles supremely unconvincingly. Rick takes command finally, as things die down.
Michonne asks Otis to get her inside the Prison. Rick and the others open the gates to find the carnage of Michonne’s battle. Rick agrees to let her in as long as she surrenders her weapons and… her two pets aren’t welcome. Perhaps in a show of trust, she beheads them and goes inside. In the meantime, Andrew, Dexter’s… ahem prison bitch runs out and into the open. Rick refuses to chase him down.
Rick chats with Tyrese later and muses, “That woman’s got to be tough as nails to last as long as she did out there.” Boy howdy!
Michonne is lightning in a bottle. She stepped in and energized an already thrilling book. She almost immediately became most readers’ favorite character in a series loaded with fascinating individuals. Is it the cloak? Is it the sword? No, I think it’s just her. She exudes power, strength and confidence. She shows vulnerability at times, but she’s one of the backbones of the team. If there’s one character that I have no doubt will make it through this until the end, it’s her and I can’t even say that about Rick. (Maybe that’s wishful thinking.)
This doesn’t introduce any new information. Her origin was already explained, but seeing it depicted was nice and added some additional depth. It probably serves as a nice introduction to viewers of the show who aren’t familiar with the book or maybe started reading after they saw the show. I’m actually glad the earlier portion wasn’t shown prior to her physical introduction in the comic. She was more of a cypher, which I think made her more intriguing up front. But it’s nice to get it now that she’s already been established and developed in the series.
So for a book of reprinted material, I was still satisfied!
THE WALKING DEAD: MICHONNE SPECIAL
Written by Robert Kirkman
Art and Cover by Charlie Adlard