For the last time, that’s not zombie Rick Carl is leading on the cover of “The Walking Dead #49.” If Rick was a zombie, he’d be chasing after Carl and trying to eat him, who cares how close he was to him as a human? Either way, Kirkman manages to stir up controversy and heavy debating yet again with this issue, but damn if it isn’t a good one. Kirkman has a lot of questions to answer, and I have a feeling he’s going to in 50, but for all the inherent excellence this issue has, it’s pretty much just filler.
The first page opens with a truly gut wrenching scene as Michonne, left in the haze of battle, proceeds to destroy ill fated Tyreese’s zombified head, and jams the blade into his temple as he looks up at her from the ground, sheds a tear for his state, and disappears into the bushes to track a set of footprints. Whose is it? Is she out for blood or looking for someone? Is she looking for Rick? Is she looking for Andrea? Where did Andrea go? Is she dead? Where is everyone who left on the RV? Have they found a special safe haven? And more so, are they safe? Regardless, any comparisons to Cormac McCarthy’s “On the Road” are gone now as this issue is meant to set up issue 50.
Rick and Carl are now on the hunt for food, and have realized that they’ve been inside too long. Rick is nearly killed by a decrepit roamer on a search for food in a General store, and fails to properly defend himself when his axe misses the zombie’s brain. Carl shoots with ace precision, and they finally end up at an abandoned house. Rick and Carl talk a while, and we gain a brilliant sense of his vulnerability now that he’s really only left with one hand. In one very heartbreaking instance, Rick asks Carl to open a can of food for him. Angry and sad, Carl refuses to eat partially out of rebellion but that will later be clarified, hopefully. It’s all set up for a clincher of a final scene that has left readers raging over the next issue.
Is Rick dead? I doubt it. I think he took meds, and is very high, and now Carl is all on his own to find help or proper medication. Issue 50 promises to be incredible with Carl now relying on his own instincts and weapon handling to find a way to help Rick, which will surely be one compelling fiftieth issue for all readers. Anyone who still thinks Rick has died on the final panel of this issue clearly doesn’t know Kirkman. Since when has he granted subtle deaths to characters? Remember how horribly Rick’s wife and newborn daughter were mutilated in the line of fire? I now await #50, which will provide us with a deeper look into Carl and how much he’s progressed as a warrior and realist.