WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for The Walking Dead #176, by Robert Kirkman, Charles Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano and Cliff Rathburn, on sale now.
The Walking Dead is a comic that is famous for putting its ever-expanding cast of character through the wringer, both physically and emotionally. Very rarely does one of its heroes get a win, but for the first time in a while, a beam of light has pushed through the opaque bleakness of the series, giving readers something to cheer for.
Last month’s issue left us with fan-favorite Michonne discovering that her daughter might actually be alive in the Commonwealth, the newly-discovered settlement of nearly 50,000 survivors in Ohio. Any long-time reader knows that cliffhangers like this in The Walking Dead often lead to more heartbreak, especially when it comes to Michonne, who is a character that over the course of the past 175 issue of the series has been tortured, humiliated, and deprived of more lovers than probably anyone else in the comic.
When Michonne first graced the cover of the Walking Dead #19 with a pair of armless zombies on chains and a katana clenched in her fist, she immediately captured the imagination of existing readers, and probably made some new converts to the series. With her steely resolve and reliability (and the fact that she just looks cool all the time) fans fell head-over-heels for her. Alas, it’s almost as if she was created just so she could suffer. In fact, her misfortunes (to put it lightly) teeters toward the side of ridiculous at times and makes us wonder if Kirkman just wants to hurt his readers by putting one of the comics’ most beloved characters through so much devastation.
Now, however, The Walking Dead has given Michonne some much-deserved mercy. After years of believing her to be dead, Michonne’s daughter Elodie has been revealed to be alive. And if the heart-warming final splash page of the issue that depicts the tender embrace between mother and daughter is any indication, Elodie’s elation matches that of the katana-wielding warrior.
Very few moments in The Walking Dead have been this emotionally uplifting. Sure, we’ve seen events like Glenn proposing to Maggie when she was in a dark place, Andrea surviving attack after attack, and even some of the exchanges between Carl and Lydia (which, to be fair, were equal measures creepy). But never has the series given readers a revelatory moment of pure bliss quite like this. The reveal of Elodie being alive not only has the potential to change how we view one of our favorite characters, it has the potential to change the status quo of the series.
With Elodie being alive, we now have a new lens to view Michonne through. She isn’t just a stoic warrior anymore. She’s a mommy. Yes, we all knew she had children before the zombie apocalypse, but now we get to see her actually play the part -- if she even can. How does someone come back to a place of normalcy after everything she’s been through? The series has been asking that question for quite some time, and the sad truth is, most people don’t come back from trauma as extensive as Walking Dead's universe delivers on its inhabitants. At least not fully.
But where this reveal really affect the comic is in the notion of what The Commonwealth could mean to our established core of heroes. This community could be a place for healing. For growth… or, if Kirkman is up to his old tricks again, a place for even more suffering. So for now, until the next enviable bloodbath that will befall so many characters we love, we’ll take the win, and so will Michonne.