Black Women Characters in Comics: The Walking Dead's Michonne
By Takima Bly (@emma_fRhost2)
Synopsis: The comic book follows sheriff Rick Grimes and a group of survivors during a zombie apocalypse. The world is in a state of catastrophe due to flesh eating “walkers”, a rapid spreading disease, and dangerous search missions for food and medical supplies. Not only are survivors afraid of being killed by the walkers, but they also have to protect themselves from other people. The mindset of humanity has shifted and the dynamics of society fell apart. No one can be trusted. The population is contaminated by the disease that is rapidly spreading. Families are broken apart as they struggle to live with depleting resources and seeking shelter against the hungry and deadly walkers. Paranoia grows as survivors are being killed, by other living people, to save and protect themselves.
Character Highlight: Michonne is a woman of color who is introduced to the story in issue #19 of The Walking Dead comic book series. She shows up holding a chain tied to two armless and jawless walkers in shackles, using them protection and a diversion for other walkers. She was able to figure out that their scent fools them into believing that she, too, is one of them. Michonne is very private and guarded. Before the apocalypse, Michonne was lawyer. She had children, a boyfriend, and was previously married. One of Michonne’s greatest attributes is her skilled swordsmanship. She uses her katana slash and slay walkers and anyone out to cause her harm.
Interaction with the Main Character: Rick accepts Michonne into his group at the prison. She proves to be a valuable member of the prison due to her combative skills when protecting the group. She and Rick build chemistry together when she reveals that she talks to her dead boyfriend as a coping mechanism to deal with the trauma of the chaotic walker infested world. Rick in return shows her a rotary telephone he used to "call" his wife Lori, who passed, making Michonne feel much better about her mental state.
Michonne goes to great lengths to protect Rick. She is often seen as Rick's right hand woman because of her strength, survival skills, and bond with him. She also protects Carl, the son of Rick, similar to a mother figure. In the comics, Rick asks Michonne if she finds him attractive. Michonne admits that she does, but at the time she is still grieving over the loss of Tyreese, who was killed by The Governor.
Impact and/or Contribution to the overall Story: Michonne prefers to work alone and quietly, even though she still fights for the group as strongly as the other defenders. She actively participates in the missions, and the often necessary dangerous actions of the group, such as the conflict against The Governor and his group from Woodbury, which landed her in a torture chamber. Michonne was able to escape from the torture chamber and all of its horrors, but not before taking out an eye of her captor, The Governor.
In addition to aiding in physical combat against enemies and protection from walkers, she assisted with finding food and supplies for the group. Michonne proved her worth not only in her skills with her katana, but by using her instinct and will to survive through all of her struggles and losses. She looked out for the group’s safety and helped push them forward.
K. Bly is an expert on book reviews that spotlight girls and women, of color, characters in the horror, sci-fi, and suspense genres of literature, in novels and comic books. You can find her on both Twitter (@emma_fRhost2) and Instagram (@game_of_rhos)