Here’s the reality of The Walking Dead graphic novels: It’s always been a popular comic series, and it will probably always remain a popular series, but the graphic novels — like the television series — lost a number of fans during the All Out War. For both the television series and the comic books, the introduction of Negan and the death of Glenn were a high water mark — issue #100 was the biggest selling issue of not only The Walking Dead, but of any comic in the 21st century up to that point (sales of Issue #163 actually broke that record, but it had the benefit of being sold for $.25 as a part of a huge promotion from Image Comics).
The point is, even as a huge fan of The Walking Dead, I will concede that the comic lost some narrative momentum after Issue #100. There’s still a lot of exciting things coming, including The Whisperers War (which will be more difficult to pull off without a certain character), several major-minor deaths, the death of Andrea (which could signal the demise of fan favorite on the TV show), and a fun forthcoming hook up between two beloved characters.
However, nothing in the next 50 issues of the comics will shake up the series as much as Issue #175, which — if the TV series continues to follow its same trajectory — should arrive on the AMC show around the time of the season 11 finale. It’s going to completely upend the series in the best possible way.
Spoilers from The Walking Dead comics
Issue #175, just released by Image Comics, will see the introduction of a new community called The Commonwealth (they are actually initially, and briefly, introduced at the end of Issue #173). The Commonwealth is different from the other communities on The Walking Dead for a variety of reasons — the soldiers wear armor, it’s set in Ohio, and they make use of their sports arenas — but the major difference is this: It has 50,000 citizens.
The Commonwealth is not an isolated community. It’s a full-blown city. It is a proper civilization with musicians and sports teams. It’s a huge nation-colony, much larger than the one the Rick has been creating. It seems like this is the place where survivors all across America eventually find themselves. How do we know this? Because one of the survivors is very important to an existing character. The Commonwealth, Michonne discovers, is where one of her missing daughters now lives.
Of course, in the TV show, Michonne does not have two daughters, she only has a son, but it’s easy enough to imagine that The Commonwealth is where she is reunited with her son (assuming Michonne doesn’t die before then). A society of that magnitude could also mean returning to a relatively normal way of life. It could even potentially be a point in both The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead where the two shows naturally merge.
Of course, nothing is ever straightforward on The Walking Dead, and it is unlikely that merging Rick’s group with The Commonwealth won’t come without some consequences. At the moment, The Commonwealth seems like a safe haven, but what’s the fun in that? There’s surely something sinister afoot, but for television viewers, we may need to wait until the 12th season to fully find out what the deal is with The Commonwealth. For comic readers, however, we only need to wait until the next issue arrives.