Rick Grimes could be the major death ending The Walking Dead compendium four, which closes with June’s issue #192.
The final page of May’s issue #191, penned by creator Robert Kirkman with art from Charlie Adlard, ended with Rick shot in the chest by Sebastian Milton in revenge for Rick unseating Sebastian’s mother, Governor Pamela Milton, from her position of power over the network of communities known as the Commonwealth.
Kirkman has long insisted he’ll one day kill even Rick Grimes, who has served as series protagonist for the book’s 15-year lifespan.
“No one is safe,” Kirkman promised at New York Comic Con 2017.
“Hopefully there have been points where you go, ‘Is this it? Is this where Rick dies?’ And he doesn’t. One day, the moment will come where you go, ‘Oh my god, it is!’ ...It could happen any time between now and 50 years from now. 50 years, that’s not gonna happen.”
At New York Comic Con 2018, Kirkman said he knows “exactly how Rick Grimes dies in the comic book.”
“It’s possible there will be some differences between the comic and the show,” Kirkman said of the AMC television series, which has since killed off Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) and written off Andrew Lincoln’s Rick, who will resurface in the movie side of the franchise under Kirkman’s supervision.
“One of those is the death in the comic could happen in the next issue, or could happen 10 years from now,” Kirkman teased. “I could change my mind.”
But after giving Rick another rousing speech intended to inspire thousands of survivors, and quiet one-on-one probably-goodbyes with son Carl and good friend Michonne, it appears Rick’s gunshot wound to the chest could be comparable to the assassinations of John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King — stirring leaders gunned down when on the cusp of great revolutionary change.
This assassination and probable death comes months after Rick was forced to shoot and kill close ally Dwight, once a member of Negan’s Saviors, to prevent the idyllic settlement of communities known as the Commonwealth from descending into a deadly civil war.
The 50,000-plus population of the Commonwealth dwarfs the survivor count of the Hilltop, the Kingdom, and Rick’s Alexandria combined, and boasts such amenities as cafes, bakeries, and a sports-slash-entertainment stadium.
Established by Governor Pamela Milton and her entitled son Sebastian, the Commonwealth finds itself caught in civil unrest as its citizens, stirred by the arrival of Rick Grimes and company, begin to seek a fairer way of life than the one now offered by the Commonwealth, which operates on a class system.
In the hopes of preventing civil war, Rick appeals to all sides of the conflict — son Carl, Michonne, Pamela, her split forces — arguing against another violent clash in favor of civil discourse.
“I’ve fallen in love with the Commonwealth. I’ve seen what you’ve accomplished here -- and it is... wondrous,” Rick says. “I would fight to maintain it... I would kill to protect it. I would... I have.”
Rick admits he was wrong to believe the survivors had to put their humanity on hold and embrace savagery to continue to live in this world, catching the eyes and ears of its captivated citizens.
“We are on the road back, I can see our future ahead of us, and it is bright,” Rick says.
“We no longer love surrounded by the dead. We’re not among them -- not living on borrowed time... we do not live minute to minute, in minutes stolen from the dead. We can be happy... we can be content... we can have peace. We can live again. We are NOT the Walking Dead!”
Rick tells the assembly they deserve a better world. He admits he was wrong to support Governor Milton, who he recognizes as someone craving power above all else.
“You would lead your people... into killing each other... just to maintain that power? I ask you, people of the Commonwealth... is that the kind of leader you want? That you deserve?”
A cry of “no” in unison. Governor Milton looks at her armored soldiers, speechless.
“Then let your voice be heard!” Rick cries. “Take charge of your lives... bring about a Commonwealth that works for you... rather than against you. If you don’t want Pamela Milton to lead you -- then don’t let her lead you!”
Milton’s former right-hand man, Mercer, takes her into custody — for her own safety.
“What?! You think you can just arrest my mom?! We f—ing built this place!” Sebastian screams. “You think you can keep it running without us?! You need us! You’re fucking lost without us!”
Milton orders her son to stand down, lest he end up in a cell next door. After the Governor has been escorted away in handcuffs, Rick and the Commonwealth citizens band together to clean its streets littered with walker corpses.
Mercer is surprised by the turnout. “You’ve inspired them,” Mercer says.
“Or scared them,” Rick says with a smile. “Whatever works.”
Visiting Milton’s cell, Rick chastises the ousted Governor for leading an army to slaughter her own people.
She says he’s being too harsh. “I feel like for the Commonwealth to succeed... I need to be in control. You don’t know how complicated things are here,” she says. “I thought I was saving lives by staying in charge.”
Rick frees her. How the Commonwealth moves forward, and how it redistributes its unfair wealth, is something they’ll have to figure out together, Rick says.
Later, Michonne tells Rick candidates are lining up for the Commonwealth’s first organized election, but there’s a clear frontrunner.
“You’ve inspired these people... the same way you always do. You’re a f—ing rock star, Rick Grimes.”
Rick says his place is in Alexandria, but Michonne says he’s fixed all its problems.
“You’ve always given us things to live for. People need that. We’ll always need that,” she says. “We’ll always need you.”
Walking home with Carl, Rick says he’s “definitely not” running for Governor.
“The Commonwealth needs to grow from within. It needs to be someone who already lives here,” he says.
Carl asks how he always knows what’s right. “Same way you always do,” Rick tells him. “It’s just a feeling.”
Carl says his is sometimes wrong, and Rick admits his too, “all the time.”
“You just have to realize, this world needs people who are willing to stand up and do the right thing... it needs them so badly, it’ll forgive you if you’re sometimes wrong,” Rick says.
“You need to just make sure the losses don’t discourage you... because the people us... they’ll always need the wins.”
Carl says he’s proud Rick is his father. Rick is proud to have Carl as his son.
In his room, Rick is stirred awake. He’s confronted by a seething Sebastian, whose gun is at the ready and covered with a silencer. “Don’t make a f—ing sound,” he threatens. “Don’t move.”
Gun leveled at Rick, Sebastian says he doesn’t want to see his hard work — his mother’s hard work — “Go down the f—ing drain because of you. I don’t want to see the Commonwealth fall apart! You’ve disrupted the natural order of things -- you’ve ruined everything!”
Rick orders him to put the gun down. Sebastian disobeys.
“I’ve heard your people -- how they talk about you. I heard about you long before you got here. They think you’re a savior -- almost like you’re some kind of god. People are starting to talk about you like that here, too. One speech and my family is kicked out. I’m just supposed to pretend I’m like everyone else now? Because you said so? You’re that powerful, huh? You feel powerful now?”
“Don’t,” Rick says, but as he does, he looks down. He’s shocked to see a hole in his chest and blood splattered on the wall behind him.
Clutching his chest and gripping the sheets, he falls forward. Sebastian, gun still raised, is stunned.
Through gritted teeth, Rick can only ask, “What did you do?”
The Walking Dead #192 answers that question June 5.
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