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Creating your own comic book is like being a puppet master. You pull the strings and decide what happens when and to whom, no matter how the audience reacts. They are at the mercy of your decisions as the storyteller. That even applies to a mega-popular series like Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead, which gained popularity from the AMC series of the same name.
The landmark 200th issue is on the horizon, an incredible achievement for a creator-owned comic, but Kirkman is not the type to save his bullets. Issue #192 is out today, and is chock full of spoilers and could not be previewed in any way and be spoiler free amidst the cliffhanger of Issue #191.
**Warning: Major spoilers about The Walking Dead #191 and 192 lie ahead.**
If you're not caught up on The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes made an impassioned "We are NOT the Walking Dead" speech to the Commonwealth to win them over as the leader they need. But a newly introduced character, Sebastian Milton, the son of governor Pamela Milton bursts into Rick's bedroom and shoots him in the chest. He did so to prevent Rick from taking over the Commonwealth. And the question for The Walking Dead readers has been, does he survive this?
The short and quick answer is no.
In poetic fashion, Rick does indeed fail to survive a gunshot to the chest, but that's not the worst of it, as the first person to find him dead is his son Carl Grimes, except there's no long good bye as he's already been transformed into a zombie. There is no fanfare or drawn out sequence.
Carl does what has become instinctual to him in a post-apocalyptic world. But the rest of the issue is a hard emotional pill to swallow as Carl must face his father's murderer and deal with the emotional release with Michonne, leaving readers to wonder how much this will affect the rest of the series moving forward. It's certainly a contrast to what happened in the television series where his fate after nine seasons was left more uncertain and definitely not at the end of the rope (with a few TV movies on the way).
In the comics however, the leadership of the Commonwealth is now in ruins as Rick was much beloved and it would look bad for Pamela Milton to assume her old position after his assissination. Big decisions must be made, and are likely to ramp up towards The Walking Dead #200. Still, this issue is as big as it gets.
With copies of #192 expected to sellout, Image has already begun printing up new copies of the issue featuring a commemorative cover (see below) and will be on comic stands on the same day that The Walking Dead #193 on July 3, with final order cutoffs for retailers on Monday, June 10.
Ultimately, after 16 years in the comic has shown us, like the arrival of the apocalypse, that the grip of death, even for Rick Grimes, can be random and unexpected.