WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for The Walking Dead #175 by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, Cliff Rathburn and Rus Wooton, on sale now.
The inhabitants of The Walking Dead universe have built themselves a pretty solid life in the heart of a zombie apocalypse. Among the communities of Alexandria, The Hilltop, The Kingdom and The Sanctuary, the survivors have assembled something approaching civilization, but they still don’t know what it’s like in the rest of the country or even the world.
Recently, a group of survivors were sent out to discover a community known as The Commonwealth who they first contacted via radio. Then, in last week’s blockbuster The Walking Dead #175, the group consisting of Michonne, Magna, Yumiko, Eugene, Siddiq and Princess arrived at the Commonwealth and as the title of this arc suggests, discover a New World Order.
The survivors have been communicating with The Commonwealth for a while now, going back to when Eugene first got his radio working and made contact with a woman named Stephanie. Eugene kept their correspondence secret for a long time while he verified that he could trust Stephanie and the people of her community, but eventually Rick learned of Eugene’s actions. After speaking to Stephanie, Rick decided to send a group to Ohio to visit The Commonwealth on Stephanie’s invitation, and now that they’ve got there, they’ve learned The Commonwealth is more than they could have possibly imagined.
Greeted by soldiers in advanced riot gear, wielding state-of-the-art machine guns, at first The Commonwealth doesn’t quite seem to be the safe haven Stephanie made it out to be. The suvivors are forced to meet with a man named Lance Hornsby who handles new entries into The Commonwealth, and he asks them questions about who they are, where they’ve come from and what they’ve experienced.
Eventually, tensions between the two sides ease and after a run-in with a swarm of walkers, the survivors see The Commonwealth first hand; a sprawling community so big it has a stadium for concerns and sporting events. Lance informs them that The Commonwealth is a community made up of roughly fifty thousand citizens, something hard to fathom in the years since the end of the world but it’s a particular wall on the way in that catches the survivors’ eyes.
A wall of the lost isn’t too uncommon in post-apocalyptic fiction; in fact, Telltale’s The Walking Dead series of games uses one as a storytelling device in the standalone installment “400 Days.” The general idea is that you post a picture of someone you love -- flagging them as missing -- and attach information on where you can be found if someone has information on their whereabouts. However, this wall of the lost has a very notable entry as Michonne finds a picture of herself labeled “Have you seen my mom?” apparently confirming that her daughter Elodie, previously thought long dead, is alive and safe inside The Commonwealth.
Michonne’s grief has been a driving aspect of the character, as has her survivor’s guilt. When the outbreak first hit, Michonne’s ex-husband attempted to get Elodie and her sister Colette, to safety but they were never seen again. The loss of her two daughters turned Michonne from the relatively happy lawyer she was before the outbreak into the no-nonsense, sword-wielding badass we first encountered with two jawless zombies in tow.
The final panel of the issue is of Michonne’s uncontrollably weeping eyes, suggesting that this revelation will most assuredly have a massive effect on her character development for foreseeable future of The Walking Dead. Perhaps more notably, it suggests a possible return to something approaching normalcy for a genuinely damaged and broken fan-favorite.