This article assumes you have read ‘The Walking Dead’ and references events that happen in the comic. If you want these events to be a surprise, you might want to come back after catching up on your reading.
The hardest thing about being a comic book reader with lady-parts is finding female characters you can look up to. Time after time when reading a comic, I find the women within are an afterthought, or just walking gratuitous T-and-A fleshbags. So when well-written, strong ladies appear in the pages I’m perusing, I am delighted. Two female comic characters I love the most are Michonne and Andrea from ‘The Walking Dead’ by Robert Kirkman. Here are a few reasons why.
1. They’re survivors. When Michonne initially appears, she has been traveling alone through the zombie-infested land with just her katana and 2 zombies chained together, later revealed to be her boyfriend and his best friend. It is amazing that she has lasted so long by herself, let alone managed to walk through crowds of the undead. Amazing and gutsy.
Andrea and her sister originally travel with an older man, Dale, to survive, but she develops sharp-shooting skills that make her a valued member of the group. Both watch people they love die and still don’t give up – Andrea kills her sister before she turns zombie and watches Dale die, amongst other members of the original group; and Michonne has to kill 2 of her lovers before they turn. Neither woman stops fighting – in fact, they use the deaths to push back harder.
As if the undead weren’t enemy enough, both have suffered cruelty at the hands of other humans. Michonne is brutally raped over and over by the Governor, and Andrea’s face is carved up by a serial killer. Yet both ladies find it within themselves to overcome their trauma and reclaim their strength.
2. Their loyalty. I don’t know about everyone else, but what I like about post-apocalyptic stories is the simple boiling down of relationships. It’s easy to prove your love for someone when you can save their life over and over. There aren’t office politics to worry about when death is consistently hammering at your front door. Michonne and Andrea share very strong bonds to both each other and to Rick Grimes, and miraculously without becoming sexual. Their friendship is built on trust and loyalty as well as the need for survival. Andrea confides to Rick, “I’d follow you people straight into hell.”
Their love transcends friendship and becomes the fierce protection reserved for family. Consequently, Andrea and Michonne are the only ones who seem able to confront Rick when they feel he’s gone astray. When Rick goes on a power trip and threatens the others with a gun, Michonne knock hims out and later tells him, “Just get your sh*t together.” They hold each other accountable in a world that has thrown out its moral compass.
3. Their weapons. Most of the ladies in the group stay close to home base and watch the kids, but Michonne and Andrea are fighters. They’re not just allowed to tag along and carry the ammo, either – these two are among the most reliable and consistent in battle.
Andrea discovers she is an excellent sharp-shooter. She’s able to pick off zombies before they approach. Her skills are so incredible that in one memorable scene, Rick is able to describe a specific point on one of the Hunters (“Andrea, the big guy. Left ear.”) and Andrea can hit the target.
Michonne’s choice of the katana – a wicked looking sword – means she has to be in close contact with her enemy. It’s useful in hand-to-hand combat, and the bonus of the sword is that it doesn’t make zombie-attracting noise. Guns and swords are also nice phallic symbols, and the ladies’ outstanding use of these weapons show their ability to be aggressive and to take on a typically masculine role to defend themselves and the people they love.
‘The Walking Dead’ returns to AMC on October 16th. The character of Andrea already appears in the show, but it’s heavily rumored that fan favorite Michonne might soon arrive as well. I am most eager for this to happen. Like comics, T.V. has a dearth of strong female characters, and I’m hoping that whatever actress takes on this role plays it just as fierce and awesome as she is in the comic.