The Walking Dead television series will return in October, and when it does, it looks to pick up Robert Kirkman’s source material is at around Issue #127, which is the issue that follows the end of The All-Out War. While the comics and the television series have certainly diverged, the storylines had not shifted that much until the death of Carl Grimes in the television series. Even still, as it stands, the plot hasn’t gotten far off the beaten path: The war is over, Negan is in prison; and the various communities around Alexandria are rebuilding. Maggie is the leader of The Hilltop; Rick is the leader of Alexandria; and Ezekiel is in charge of The Kingdom, same as in the TV series.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the television series and the comics at this point is that Daryl and Carol exist on the TV series (they do not in the comics) and Michonne basically fulfills the role of both Michonne and Andrea in the comics (where Andrea is still alive).
Meanwhile, the comics are currently about 50 issues ahead of the television series, having just published Issue #182. Here’s a very broad, superficial overview of where The Walking Dead stands now. Rick still runs Alexandria; Maggie still runs The Hilltop (along with Jesus); The Kingdom has a new leader; Negan is in the wind (he roams alone, his whereabouts unknown); and Rick’s girlfriend, Andrea, recently died, so Rick is still feeling some grief over that. A rebuilt Sanctuary is still around, too. Meanwhile, Carl lives on The Hilltop. Most of the action in the comics still takes place in and around Alexandria.
However, there is a new and incredibly interesting community called The Commonwealth, introduced about ten issues ago, and which exists in Ohio. It is comprised of a group of settlements that combine into about 50,000 residents. It operates very much like a pre-apocalypse civilization: There’s a sporting arena; an army; and there are even musicians who survived the apocalypse and have become popular in this new civilization.
Currently, Rick is navigating Alexandria’s relationship with The Commonwealth, where Michonne now lives, having discovered that her long-lost daughter is still alive and residing in The Commonwealth. There are many — including Maggie — who are skeptical of The Commonwealth, which wants to open up trade routes with Alexandria and its surrounding communities.
So far, however, the biggest danger that The Commonwealth poses is its class system. The people who reside in the Commonwealth hold jobs very similar to their pre-apocalypse jobs. Lawyers are lawyers; florists are florists; police officers are police officers, etc. The problem with this is that those who were wealthier before the apocalypse are similarly wealthy now, and the comics seems to be teasing the possibility of class warfare. The introduction of Alexandria — where the distribution of “wealth” is more even — may hasten those class divisions.
It is not, however, too difficult to imagine how The Walking Dead TV series will continue on this path without Rick and Maggie. Daryl, naturally, will fill the role of Rick, while Jesus — or perhaps Jadis/Anne, or Carol — would supplant Maggie’s role on The Hilltop (I suspect, however, that Carol will stick around and eventually take charge of The Kingdom). If Michonne leaves the series at the end of season 9 — as some have speculated — it’s not hard to imagine one of the many existing or newly introduced characters will find out he or she has a long lost child living in The Commonwealth (perhaps Connie). The biggest hurdle here is Carl, whose role on the series could be replaced by Enid (who like Carol and Daryl do not exist in the comics).
As for the leader of The Commonwealth, Pamela Milton? It’s possible that we’ve already met her.
How long it takes for The Commonwealth to fully come into the picture on The Walking Dead may depend upon how long the series drags out The Whisperer War, which isn’t a hugely popular arc in the comics. If the series decides to edit down The Whisperers War, the next major development in the comics is The Commonwealth, which could arrive as soon as season 10.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC on October 12th.