The Walking Dead #186
The powder keg: once it goes off, it can’t be contained.
Following last issue’s cliffhanger involving Mercer discussing a possible change in leadership, emotions have come to a dramatic boiling point at the Commonwealth. This provides the perfect opportunity for The Walking Dead #186 to live up to its ominous name, ‘The Powder Keg’, in a truly remarkable way.
We start with a few sequences of minor character development for both Carl and Eugene, with the blossoming relationship between Eugene and Stephanie becoming more personal with each passing moment. It is interesting to see these citizens coping with some form of a normal life, involving struggles over love rather than death. But this is all just setting the stage to contrast the large-scale power struggle happening at the Commonwealth.
These types of interactions are where the series has truly excelled in the past, using the apocalypse setting as a platform to explore human interactions. With steadily increasing tension through people taking sides and planning coupes, we are thrust into an emotion-filled meeting between Rick, Dwight and Michonne. This is where we see Rick’s internal struggle to grasp the rules of this new world being depicted before his eyes as Michonne’s devotion combats Dwight’s blood-thirst. Kirkman’s powerful use of character motive and development shines during moments like this, creating a pivotal moment in the story with true consequences.
As with many moments in this series, when things get serious the pace increases rapidly. What seems to be a simple meeting between friends turns into an unexpected betrayal by Michonne. She’s allowed Pamela to listen in on their treasonous intentions and within moments she, along with two guards, burst in. The situation quickly spirals out of control, spurred by differences of opinion regarding the definition of power. These differences culminate into a standoff that literally explodes into a classic TWD “Oh SH*T” moment.
Dwight pulls a gun on the Governor, forcing Rick to shoot him down.
After a few issues of world building and more traditional character development, we are reminded of the horror roots of the series with a gunshot to the head. Dwight is a character that has been with the series since The Walking Dead #98, just before Negan’s iconic introduction, so as a fan it is sad to see his death. As a prominent leader in the militia during the war against the Whisperers, Dwight proved to be a uniquely valuable individual to the network of communities. However, his fate seems to be representative of the old mentality and what is required in this new challenge of adaption.
The artwork in The Walking Dead #186 is full of palpable emotion that is required by character driven stories such as this. There is one great scene with a handful of zombies, which is a welcome addition after a significant absence, but the emotional expression in the visuals is what makes this issue so great. The tear running down Dwight’s face as he’s shot creates a harrowing scene that will certainly linger in fan’s minds. Overall, it’s a powerful book.
Rick’s decision to kill Dwight will carry consequences for many issues to come, and he has already started struggling with the side he’s chosen in this conflict. As the world around Rick continues to grow faster than he can keep up with, the death toll will only continue to rise. Dwight claimed that Rick would “come around” to his viewpoint on the Commonwealth, and his brutal death could have proven him exactly right. Regardless of their feelings, the lines have now been violently drawn…
The Walking Dead #186 is a perfect example of the series firing on all cylinders. The character drama feels real and powerful, and the stakes are higher than ever. The consequences of what unfolds will undoubtedly reverberate throughout many issues to come.
The Walking Dead #186: The Powder Keg
Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
Storyline - 10/1010/10
Art - 9.5/109.5/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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