Rick Grimes lives again. The zombie apocalypse hero of The Walking Dead returns in the first chapter of Rick Grimes 2000, a new serialized story from the pages of the five-issue anthology event series Skybound X. The oversized weekly series celebrating a decade of Skybound reunites The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and Invincible artist Ryan Ottley for RG2K, a five-chapter serial described by the publisher as "one of the most bonkers stories we've ever told." Skybound X #1 continues a noncanonical backup story started in The Walking Dead #75, where Rick Grimes awakens from his coma in a zombie apocalypse-turned-alien invasion of Earth.
The Walking Dead #75 gives Rick a futuristic costume and a cybernetic prosthetic hand before dropping him into the middle of an alien attack as an army of super-soldiers revolt against their extraterrestrial overlords. Michonne reveals the aliens caused the zombie apocalypse to bring about the downfall of civilization and turn what's left of humanity into a slave race to harvest the planet's water, and the story ends with a "not to be continued!"
More than a decade later, the story continues in Skybound X #1. In Rick Grimes 2000: Chapter 1, Rick battles a cyborg Governor with a laser sword when he attempts to rescue his wife, Lori Grimes, from the supervillain's cybernetic clutches.
For Kirkman, who ended The Walking Dead after 193 issues in July 2019 before revisiting the zombie saga with the one-shot Negan Lives in July 2020, RG2K is a chance to revive Rick Grimes inside a story that was supposed to be a joke.
"Very early on in the series [The Walking Dead] I started getting letters where people would say, 'You say you're going to do this book for a really long time, but this idea doesn't seem to have any legs,'" Kirkman previously told Entertainment Weekly about the backup story in The Walking Dead #75. "My response as a joke was, 'Oh, we're going to this until issue 75, and then I'm going to run out of ideas, and then I'm going to do an alien invasion and just kind of completely ruin the book. That's when we'll jump the shark and it'll be terrible and everybody will hate it.'"
"When we got to issue 75, I knew that I'd publicly joked about that and it was kind of a thing that the fanbase knew about," added Kirkman, referring to the joke he originally made in the letter column of The Walking Dead #7. "Like, 'Oh, 75, that's when the aliens come in, right?'"
Skybound X #1, also featuring the return of TWD fan-favorite Clementine, is now available to own. Rick Grimes 2000 continues in Skybound X #2, available at comic book shops and digital platforms on July 14.