2012 has been a big year for fans of “The Walking Dead,” as companies of all kinds are realizing the franchising potential for the hit award winning comic book series. “The Walking Dead” has emerged as hit novels, popular board games, prized collectibles, popular toys, hit video games, a record breaking television series now about to reach its third season, and most importantly, the original comic book series is about to reach 100 issues this July. After ninety nine issues of unmitigated drama and compelling writing with rich characters and gripping horror in the world of the walking dead, Robert Kirkman is delivering issue 100 in July promising surprises, and material that is sure to shock, sadden, and excite loyal readers like myself. In honor of issue 100, we’re counting down our top ten characters of the Walking Dead from issue 1-100.
We warn you, if you’ve yet to complete all ninety nine issues leading in to one hundred, we will spill spoilers about character deaths and plot points, so display caution, and don’t come complaining later on.
10. Morgan Jones
Morgan is one of the first people Rick Grimes meets when he re-awakens in a new world overrun by the walking dead. When Rick manages to make it out of the hospital without becoming zombie fodder, he is met by Morgan Jones and his son Duane. Mistaking him for a zombie, the two take him in when they discover he’s alive, and they befriend him. It’s through Morgan that Rick manages to learn about the state of the world, and what lies ahead for him in this new society where the undead rule civilization.
For a better portion of the series, Morgan remains in an abandoned house with his son Duane, and we re-visit him in a Christmas issue chronicling the bond between him and his son. When Morgan finally re-enters the fray of the series, his fate is tragically altered as Morgan leaves with Rick leaving behind a zombifiied Duane who remains in a locked room. Morgan manages to be a worthy asset in the team later in the series and he’s a valuable part of the group until the very end.
9. Dale Horvath
For a good time during the group’s survival Dale Horvath is the heart and soul of the group. He’s one of the wisest and kindest men you’ll read about during the series who has lost everything and still finds time to impart wisdom and know how to the group during the hard times. He doesn’t so much provide a strong arm as a strong mind and foundation upon which to help the group during the really bad times. And there are many where he’s present and there to save the day.
Dale is a character that really does gradually come to the realization during the apocalypse that his age defines who he is as a survivor and along the way as lover Andrea finds more to live for, he understands that he may not have a place there, and soon his exit from the series is inevitable. Kirkman allows Dale a tragic and somewhat demented death in the series, and he goes out with perfect closure, confronting Andrea with his true feelings and emotions and avoids being eaten by cannibalistic hunters. Dale is a man the series is sorely missing to this day, and he’s been an adamant force for good since his introduction.
Axel is yet another of the many characters in the series who literally had to earn his way in to the group. Originally discovered when the group raided and seized the abandoned prison, Axel is one of the many prisoners holed up inside with other inmates prepared to do whatever it takes to survive. When Rick and the group meet the inmates it soon becomes a game of who to trust and who to keep locked inside their cells. As the group basically learns the hard way of whom to trust and who not to trust, Axel soon finds a place in the group and becomes the lovable quiet giant who helps defend the group, fortifies the prison with them, and finds a mentor in the religiously devout Herschel.
The two form a very admirable bond as Axel promises to keep his end of the duties in the prison and it’s heartbreaking when he’s inevitably lost in the fold during the final war inflicted on by the Governor. Sometimes Kirkman allows a noble death for characters, sometimes he inflicts a cruel death upon them, and sometimes, as seen with Axel, characters just die in the midst of the carnage. No words, no goodbyes, just a bullet to the head. He’s a real golden heart that’s still sorely missed by fans. You follow me?
Michonne is Kirkman’s favorite character and as a constant force of nature in the series, she’s been someone who has dabbled in sin, dwelled in agony, and has taken her licks for the team’s sake. Though she begins her introduction as a very unstable femme fatale, she’s a rather brilliant survivalist and warrior in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. She figures out before many that if you have the scent of the zombie permeating your personal space, it wards off the others from trying to get to you, and she uses the corpses of her beloved boyfriend and his friend to keep them as pets and servants in the middle of her travels.
Michonne eventually proves her worth to the group and really does manage to show she’ll do whatever she has to to preserve herself and the safety of those around her. Armed with her katana sword, she’s a ruthless unstoppable foot soldier who can slice and dice with the best of them and has more than shown Rick Grimes that she can hold her own and save his butt on more than one occasion. She’s a constant drive for survival in the group and in the series, and she’s a wonderful presence in a very dark world.
6. The Governor
The Governor is a character that has yet to be surpassed in the way of influence and impact on the series and to this day his power can be felt on the group, in spite of the fact he’s been dead for a very long time now. The Governor was and remains a formidable foe of Rick and his group, a man who will stop at nothing to ensure the gratification of his own group, and never relents in making anyone suffer if they oppose him. He’s one in search of the prison, and when he gets a scent of the prison and Rick and his group, the war begins and casualties are had all across the board.
The Governor takes great pride in making people suffer and it shows when he amputates Rick’s hand, rapes and tortures Michonne, tortures Glenn, and massacres half of the group during the big prison raid. The Governor is one of the many reasons why Rick continues to unravel in terms of sanity throughout the series, and why he is at risk of becoming the Governor in the Alexandria storyline. The Governor is still one of the most popular aspects of the series, inspiring his own novel chronicling his rise to power in Woodbury.
Tyreese is one of the most entertaining and complex characters of the series, and one who manages to find his spot in the group very quickly. When we meet him he is one of the first individuals who teach everyone that bullets aren’t always the way to beat the walkers, and he gives everyone a lesson in survival while also learning from them, in the process. His back story makes for some interesting dramatic fodder all the while helping to fortify the prison with Rick and his friends and aiding in the survival of Rick’s wife Lori as well as engaging in a twisted love triangle.
Tyreese always finds himself at odds with his own mentally unstable thought process after his daughter engages in ritual suicide pact with her boyfriend in the prison, but Tyreese eventually finds a reason to go on and eventually becomes an equal to Rick. The two are constantly at odds throughout his appearances in the series because we eventually learn the two are so similar they clash. Even after duking it out and fighting for a role in the prison, Rick and Tyreese form a mutual respect and love, and Tyreese thankfully goes out like a hero, taking one for the sake of the team.
4. Sgt. Abraham Ford
Abraham Ford began life as a mysterious character who appeared in the pages of the series with intentions that were shifty and questionable. Originally Kirkman depicts the character as someone we could never be sure to trust or even like. But when he and Rick begin teaming up and Abraham finds a place in the group, Abraham Ford becomes a part of the survivors and a real powerful force of nature that can’t be replaced. Filled with a strict sense of discipline and a certainty about what he wants in the world, Abraham provides some of the most interesting material and sub-plots in the latter portion of the first hundred issues of “The Walking Dead.”
He’s initially involved in a love triangle, and when Rick and co. find themselves in the safe haven of Alexandria, he becomes a man who is told by the safe haven’s officially that he can do nothing but provide strength and is utterly expendable in the long run. Only when he decides to stand up for himself and take control of his group that is assigned to help fortify Alexandria does he finally get himself heard, as well as the others like him who are deemed potential walker bait at the cost of helping to build the town. Abraham is a mighty force in the survival against the walking dead and against the nomads that lurk outside and he makes for one of the most fascinating supporting characters in the lore of the series.
You can’t not like Glenn, you just can’t. There’s nothing to hate about him. He’s quiet, reserved, filled with humility, innovative, ingenious, clever, quick, and he knows how to survive in a world where the walking dead rule the roost. In the comic series Glenn is a character introduced by accident. After Rick manages to be outnumbered by the walking dead, he is saved by Glenn along a building who explains the high ground to him, how to travel the roofs of the buildings, and how to be fast. Glenn of course would hold the key to Rick’s original purpose: finding his wife and son.
Glenn goes from a mere plot device to one of the most sympathetic protagonists of the entire series outlasting almost everyone and always remaining one step ahead of the curb. This guy went from a scout to a family man over the course of the run being taken hostage, being beaten to a pulp and tortured, learning how to cherish his friends, contributing to the efforts to outlast the walking dead by even inventing weapons of his own, and of course inevitably forming a relationship with the lovely Maggie who took pity on him and engaged in an affair with him, and eventually learned that he was worth falling in love with. Glenn is just that kind of guy, you can’t not like him even if he’s not exactly serving a big importance to the overall arc Kirkman lays out for the series at times.
Andrea is probably one of the hottest women ever drawn on paper in black and white from Image Comics in a zombie comic book. Ever. Originally a throwaway character, she and her sister were just lucky enough to survive through the zombie apocalypse by attaching themselves to an old man named Dale with a bucket hat and an old run down RV. Cooping up with him things got a little crowded. Then fate intervened when Andrea’s sister, who kept her sane, was killed by a zed.
This caused her to lose faith in survival and she instantly became a cynical a character, voicing her apathy for life even in spite of falling for and engaging in a sexual affair with Dale, the old man who kept watch over them for a good portion of the series. When the group held up in the prison, she managed to survive an attack from an incognito serial killer who offed two of the survivors. She got away with a jagged scar along her cheek. After watching her would be killer pounded to a pulp, killed and fed to zombies, she wore the scar along her face like a badge and guess what? The bubble headed innocent became a sharp shooting soldier and survivalist, capable of wielding a sniper rifle with pure skill and has become an invaluable asset to the team for a good portion of the series going from victim to warrior woman in a long period of time, and she’s my second favorite character of the entire series, bar none.
1. Rick Grimes
As the centerpiece of the series, Rick Grimes has managed to show the most complexities and shades of gray in the entire series. He’s gone from inadvertent victim to inadvertent hero to someone walking in to the apocalypse to leading a band of survivors to becoming the leader of an established colony to being taken hostage by a madman at Woodsbury to… well the list goes on. Surely enough he’s the character that has shown most risk of being killed off and as Kirkman has displayed, no one in this series is immortal or untouchable.
We’ve witnessed many beloved characters endure cruel deaths in the past and Rick has been on the verge of death countless times and has gone through a startling transformation over the course of the series from humble mild mannered guy to psychotic militant amputee leading a group of nomads in to battle. He’s even been on the verge of completely losing his mind after watching his wife and baby daughter be blown apart in a hail of gunfire in front of him, which caused him to latch on to a phone he swore could reach his dead wife Lori from beyond the grave. Since then Rick has grasped on to his small shreds of sanity and is losing the battle. Rick is without a doubt my favorite character of the series and there’s not a single character written better.