Writer: Robert Kirkman / Artists: Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, Cliff Rathburn / Image Comics
The Walking Dead rarely offers time for good-byes. When characters depart, it’s usually sudden, in secret, or while there’s too much going on in the background. Robert Kirkman made a clear exception in issue #167 as we said good-bye to a major character.
Andrea made her way back to Alexandria and her family after being bitten by a walker in the last issue. Hours have passed since the bite and it is inconveniently located on her neck, so amputation isn’t an option. There’s only one: death.
While she’s still breathing, she’s clearly dying from the fever one gets from the zombie infection. The rest of the issue is dedicated to the act of grieving, which there’s no right way to do.
Andrea is an important part of this story. Even before she shared a deep connection with Rick, she was a standout. Seeing her go is painful for both readers, characters, and Kirkman himself, which he explained in a moving letter in the back of the issue.
In the issue itself, we see a wide variety of methods of grieving, all displayed on the same incredible page. Carl does his best to be strong for his adoptive mother while Eugene is a wreck. Jesus and Negan are celebratory of the life she lived. Most importantly, Rick is shaken to his core by losing another person he wasn’t sure he could live without.
Actually, Andrea’s response is the most important given that she’s the one on her death bed. Not a single word she says goes to waste as she passes her wisdom down to her friends and family. Sure, it may come off
a bit incredibly pessimistic, but can you blame her after what she’s gone through? She drops truth bombs on everyone about love, mortality, and how to move on.
As is often the case in comics, some of the most moving moments in this issue are unspoken. Rick’s reaction when Andrea starts to fade away and the pages that follow are beautifully written. Without spoiling too much, everything that needed to happen did.
Instead of going for the gory violence The Walking Dead is famous for, issue #167 goes for the emotions the series is also known for. It plays your heartstrings like a guitar for all of its 44 pages. For anyone who’s experienced a loss, this issue should be required reading both at the beginning and end of the mourning process. It’ll help put things in perspective.
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