When the long-running "All-Out War" storyline in The Walking Dead wrapped with no major character deaths, some fans were disappointed and almost everyone was surprised.
After all, it hardly seems like an event story in a series like The Walking Dead unless the body count is impressive, and includes at least one major player from each side of the battle and, more significantly, the loss of a character or a home base has been basically the only way they've yet established major changes in the book to date.
Well, this week's issue changes all of that.
As many fans had predicted, the aftermath of "All-Out War" takes the story into the future (although not very far; in the "Letter Hacks" column in the back, creator Robert Kirkman says the time jump is just two years). We get radically new looks for Rick and Carl, as well as a bunch of new characters and changes in the status quo for nearly everyone...
...but there's no sign of Michonne.
Actually, that's not true. There's a sign of her...in that Jesus has her sword.
There's nothing specific that gives the idea she's dead, so it's probably more likely that she's had a major lifestyle shift (like, maybe, retiring from the action-hero lifestyle to help run Alexandria or the Kingdom and/or have a family), but until we see her (we don't, this issue), there will be many readers thinking she's dead because it seems unlikely she'd find herself separated from that sword.
Of course, one thing that makes it seem perhaps a little safer for Michonne is that we don't get mentions of a number of other characters, either, including Dwight and Ezekiel.
Certainly in the case of the latter -- somebody who had his own domain even prior to "All-Out War" and who has had a relationship with Michonne for a while now -- whatever happened to him might inform what happened to her, whether it's death or just moving on to a new locale and (for whatever reason) leaving her trademark weapon behind.
There's the introduction of new character (Spoiler) and her five (then four -- she loses one in the issue)-person crew who are rescued (see at left) and taken to Alexandria are mostly given only ancillary development as, other than (Spoiler), it looks like they'll be more supporting or background characters. She herself feels a lot like Rick used to be -- but more on that in a little while.
Perhaps the most-changed character is Eugene who, following his importance to "All-Out War" is viewed as an essential part of the community and has apparently been key to restoring a little bit of civilization and normality to the world the characters inhabit.
And, yes, we get to see the status quo for Negan who, years later and after his incarceration, is still grinning like an idiot. Does he have a plan, or is he just at peace with his new station in life? It could go either way; we don't get a ton of insight into his current state of mind.
Even with no (express) body count in the time since the last issue, The Walking Dead is wandering into uncharted territory starting today.