Review: The Walking Dead #168 (Pride Variant)

Image Comics is celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2017, and among their many forms of celebration are the Image and Skybound variant covers for LGBTQ Pride Month. Available only in stores, the variants celebrate the LGBTQ community and the progress made by the Gay Liberation movement. 100% of the proceeds from the Pride variant covers will be donated to Human Rights Campaign! And Geeks OUT is reviewing them all!

Happy Pride! The Walking Dead #168 breaking out the rainbow. For those not familiar with The Walking Dead comic outside of zombies and that guy from Supernatural with the baseball bat, (or even those who have fallen woefully behind), let's bring you up to speed:

After the Whisperer War (a battle with a group of survivors who use walker skin to blend in and save themselves from attack), our heroes are hanging out in Alexandria. And there's another herd coming close. After a little debate as to whether to stay or go, Rick makes the executive decision to stay put as he feels the gate will hold out. Unfortunately, he's proven wrong, and things...aren't good (to put it mildly). The Hilltop, the Saviors, and the Kingdom are able to contain some of the herd and bring them to the ocean, but there's a big group of them that break through Alexandria's gate, and one-handed Rick is overwhelmed. Negan swoops in to help, reminding Rick that they are more alike than he may think. Rick saves Negan's life. Eugene gets in over his head with a herd heading towards the ocean, and Andrea steps in, only to pay with her own life. In spite of the unity in fighting the herd, there's still infighting with the groups: Michonne and Ezekiel are setting up for a showdown over Kingdom leadership, and Rick kills Sherry, the leader of the Saviors, after she attacks him. For a full synopsis of this current arc, visit The Walking Dead wikia.

Issue 168 ("The Road's End") opens with the residents of Alexandria grieving Andrea and banding together to clean up the settlement in a show of respect, including John, who brings along his fellow Saviors to help in the efforts. And things go well, until John finds out his close friend Sherry died at Rick's hand (albeit accidentally) and there goes the peace treaty. It takes Rick's new bestie Negan to step in and remind everyone that (1) Rick and Negan are the only reasons Alexandria is still alive, and (2) in spite of everyone’s distrust of both of them, everyone really does work well together, so it's time to pull up our big girl panties, bury our dead, and move forward. As the issue ends, the camp takes Negan's advice, and Rick comes to terms with his loss.

Outside of the Pride flag as a zombie weapon on the cover, the deeper message from Negan (a rather unlikely source) of "hey, we're stronger together" as a message for Pride 2017 is what I loved the most about this issue. It's important to remember and celebrate the difference in our experiences. Because let's be clear, intersectionality is important and awesome. We are all richer people for being very different people. At the same time, we do have common threads that bind us: love for chocolate ice cream, dislike of spreaders on the subway, the desire to fight for what is right. The rainbow flag we fly even higher this month has different colors with different meanings—red for life, orange for healing, violet for spirit—but when they come together, it makes a glorious rainbow. There's no better message for this month than one of power in numbers. Like the individual snowflakes that come to form an avalanche, we can do more to improve the world as a group than any one of us alone.

The Pride variant of The Walking Dead #168 is available in comic books shops today!
Kate Kosturski's picture
on June 7, 2017

Librarian diva, knitter, foodie, Anglophile, NYC girl in CT, techie, baseball fan, NJ expat, feminist, Whovian, geek. All opinions my own. She/her/hers. @librarian_kate on Twitter.