THE WALKING DEAD #177 reunites Michonne and her daughter, Elodie. This is an emotional issue by Robert Kirkman that has other key plot points interworked in the story. The artwork from Charlie Adlard and Stefano Gaudiano is as solid as ever.
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An Emotional Issue

THE WALKING DEAD #177 returns to form and focuses on three major plot points. Each has significance and each leaves the reader curious about what will happen next. We’re treated to scenes of scandal at both The Commonwealth and The Hilltop, but it’s all balanced out with a little zombie bloodshed and of course a sincere mother-daughter reunion. This issue has the expected stellar artwork of Charlie Adlard and Stefano Gaudiano, as well as intense dialogue from Kirkman. It’s a traditional issue of THE WALKING DEAD, and that’s why it’s great.

Michonne and Elodie: A Mother and Daughter Reunion

The moment fans have been waiting for since last month is of course the reunion between Michonne and her daughter, Elodie. And Robert Kirkman doesn’t disappoint. It’s an emotional conversation, one where Elodie explains the trials she has lived through while trying to survive. Michonne empathizes completely, explaining to her daughter that she doesn’t have to retell the miseries. But Elodie confesses to killing a group of men who had both protected her and abused her, and this only brings more tears to Michonne.

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Of course, Michonne knows too well what it takes to survive in this dystopia. It’s a rather sad moment. Since Ezekiel, Michonne really hasn’t opened up: she’s hardened herself to the world. Watching the walls she’s built up collapse once again (for the better) is touching to see, and it has me praying this relationship isn’t cut short by Kirkman.

A Potential Faction

While this is happening, we’re introduced to Mercer, the man on the front cover of THE WALKING DEAD #177. He works for The Commonwealth and is essentially the governor’s son’s bodyguard. This introduction is hilariously sad: the governor’s son persuades his girlfriend to be intimate with him in an open field. He assures her nobody can see them. Naturally, as they’re getting started, zombies begin trickling in. It looks like they’re about to die until Mercer takes out each one.

Image courtesy of Image Comics

The governor’s son is a brat and freaks out on Mercer for not being more discreet about it; the girl freaks out about both the zombies and the watchman being so close, like a peeping tom. Mercer takes all of these insults and simply replies, “I’m very sorry, sir.”

Later, we find Mercer with another grunt, where they talk about their potential plan to overthrow the governor. The issue ends with Siddiq casually walking by and overhearing them.

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This storyline thus far has been great. It’s been building up for a quite a while if you consider how many issues Eugene and Stephanie have been communicating over radio. I like that Kirkman is taking his time with this story, though I’m concerned about how there are only three more issues of “New World Order.” It seems hard to believe that this storyline can wrap up so quickly, but perhaps it’s just the immediate plot dealing with Mercer and his potential fellow rogues. This would be similar to “The Whisperer War,” where the immediate action took place under the storyline heading but the fallout affected the comics for a good year after.

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Maggie and Dante: Years of Tension

The immediate storyline isn’t the only place Kirkman is taking his time. There is also the third major plot of this story: Maggie and Dante. This little love interest has been brewing for years and it’s finally coming to fruition. I like how Kirkman’s managed to make Dante persistent without being creepy or overbearing. He gives Maggie her space and never puts a physical move on her, only expressing his interest during appropriate times. It isn’t until Maggie reaches a sort of zen after allowing Negan to live that she finally gives Dante the time of day.

In THE WALKING DEAD #177, we catch the two fooling around in a shed. Maggie is beyond embarrassed while Dante laughs it off. However, Maggie expresses that she isn’t ashamed of Dante but rather in herself.

It’s hard to imagine the conflicting emotions she feels: she still remembers Glenn; she’s the leader of The Hilltop; she has a daughter; and she literally lives in a world infested with zombies. The girl isn’t completely ready to move on, and you can’t help but feel bad for her. I’m curious to see how it develops in future issues.

The Artwork of THE WALKING DEAD #177

Image courtesy of Image Comics

Charlie Adlard’s portrayal of Michonne and Elodie is beautiful. We’re used to seeing Michonne as the badass that she is. But here, instead of shredding zombies, she’s caressing her daughter tenderly. It’s authentic motherly love, and Adlard’s ability to draw this on paper furthers him as one of the best artists in the business. It also shows he’s not simply “the zombie artist.” He’s more than capable of drawing non-violent scenes. Of course, these drawings are assisted by Stefano Gaudiano’s inkings. A few pages after the above scene, we see deep shadows beneath Michonne’s eyes. This subtle touch adds layer to the words she speaks, to the depth of what she means. Adlard and Gaudiano are able to show such intense emotion in their artwork.

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What to Expect Next in THE WALKING DEAD

What can we expect next after THE WALKING DEAD #177? It’s hard to say. Will Mercer and his companion question Siddiq? Will they attack him? Or will Mercer brush it off? And what about Dante and Maggie? I have a feeling that it all will continue to build slowly, and I’m quite okay with that. The focus of THE WALKING DEAD #178 will hopefully dwell on The Commonwealth and the reunion of Michonne and Elodie. I’d be curious to learn what Elodie has to say about both the governor and the soon-to-be rogue military.

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