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Michonne by Jordan Ferguson


This article contains what some might consider SPOILERS for the second season finale of The Walking Dead. Though really, if you haven't seen it by now...

And there was our Andrea, abandoned by her companions, frantically running through the night in the wilderness surrounding Hershel's Farm, out of ammo, beating in the brains of a walker with the butt of her empty revolver, jamming her knife into another's skull, when she was pulled to the ground by a third.

Scrambling away from the walker's tight grip on her legs, things looked grim for our heroine until a metallic slice cut through the frame, revealing Andrea's savior: a hooded woman with a katana sword, dragging two jawless, armless walkers behind her in chains; Michonne had made her debut on The Walking Dead television series. There was universal rejoicing from nerdery at large.

You know where this is going, don't you friends?

Of course, buried in the chorus of whoops and cheers as Michonne filled the screen in her badass pose was one man in Toronto, sitting on my couch, sighing loudly and muttering, “Son of a bitch!” and generally hating.

For me, Michonne's debut was the one sour note in an otherwise stellar finish to The Walking Dead's second season. For me, despite how essential she's become to the plot of the comic, Michonne as a character requires a monumental suspension of disbelief that I just can't seem to summon.

If there's one theme I seem to come back to over and over again in these columns, it's the urging for comics as an art form and their creators to shake off the worst and most infantile narrative posturing, to aim higher in the things they make. And this is where Michonne falls apart for me: The Walking Dead is so compelling because aside from the, uh, walking dead, the comic plays things pretty realistically. Series writer and creator Robert Kirkman's primary gift is skillfully depicting the psychological damage these characters suffer as the world falls apart around them. Recent arcs like the "Alexandria Safe-Zone," have compellingly depicted the mindset of people trying to exhale after years of living hand to mouth and struggling for survival, and how little it takes for that sense of safety to completely fall apart.

And into all this sophisticated psychological drama is a samurai sword wielding ninja girl.

Say what?

Of course, Michonne quickly became a fan favourite. In an interview on AMC's aftershow Talking Dead, Kirkman said he thinks Michonne's the one character who's figured that world out and knows how to survive on her own; it's clear he's as fond of her as the audience is. But she's always been the primary reason why I've never fully given the comic series my full attention, aside from reading a few trades and keeping up on major story beats online: because Kirkman couldn't resist the urge to put a superhero into his survival horror story. Michonne may have suffered terribly at the hands of the Governor, and seems incapable of loving a man without having to kill him in the end, but I've never felt any real concern for her well being. In a world where anyone could go at anytime and people lose limbs left and right (pun intended), Michonne is The Walking Dead's Batman. No matter how bad things get, she'll slice and dice her way right out of them (who knew those fencing lessons would make her a kendo master?).

As I watched that silver arc cut through the frame and the walker's head last Sunday, watched the hooded figure fling the gore from her blade with a flick of her wrist, posing on the screen like a cosplayer at a convention, The Walking Dead TV series revealed itself to be the one thing a lot of casual fans still might never have known it was.

A show based on a comic book. Because it's not enough for comic books to rely on heart-wrenching action and tense character moments; you gotta throw some ninja girls in there, too.

Jordan Ferguson is willing to grant the shackled zombies looked pretty awesome. He narrowly avoids becoming a fanboy stereotype at poetryforgravediggers.wordpress.com.