Imagining what could have come next
[Not spoiling anything from tomorrow's much anticipated issue, obviously] I'd like to image what could happen in an alternate future of the walking dead, now Rick is dead. I have not been a fan of the comics for a while now, but pulling the Rick trigger is a massive bomb that would have huge repercussions for the story, and I'd like to imagine what it would look like as things finally became interesting again.
The first thing that I think is obvious is a timeskip. A big one. Maybe five years, who knows. Once again we pick up with a new survivor, a loner, travelling. She's a bad-ass having survived this long, a drifter going from town to town, as she follows a map of known survivor settlements and 'dead-zones'. There's barely any walkers anymore, and nature has reclaimed the earth. As she enters Georgia, a train flies past, and to the woman's disbelief, it stops, and out steps Eugene and Stephanie, with their two young children. They take the lady to the communities in Washington, to find Magna in charge. She interviews her once like Rick did to herself, and she begins to learn about these places, as well as the legacy of Rick Grimes, including the statue dedicated to his memory. Many characters look changed, older, with families or in new relationships. We tour the communities in the south, the sanctuary, the Kingdom, The Oceanside and the Hilltop, yet there's no Carl to be found.
From there we begin to discover more about the state of the world. In a time of relative peace, society has begun to rebuild, but tension is building amongst the communities and the commonwealth, as the commonwealth's society is rebuilding the world the old way, making business, drilling for oil, expanding it's police force, while the communities are living smaller lives with more rural techniques. Both sides are allies, but are becoming more and more different as life returns to the world, and tensions are brewing, as neither is willing to accept the other, but neither willing to break the peace that Rick forged. Michonne, Eugene, Pamela and Mercer have been keeping the two sides together the best they can, but as people begin leaving the commonwealth for the communities, their capitalist society gets poorer, and Alexandria is begining to struggle all the mouths' it has to feed.
At the centre of this story is Carl, who is running from his legacy as a Grimes and as a leader. After cheating on Lydia with Sophia, he left the Hilltop and the shadow of his father to live on the farm with Negan, who's now a older and calmer presence, even if he's not a good influence on anybody still. The recurring theme of the latter part of the story is legacy as many character's deal with where they've come from and demons of the past. When the commonwealth and communities erupt into conflict, the past ways return, and Carl is pulled back into the fight one last time, and must become his own man and step out of Rick's shadow.
Eventually after everything is restored and the final conflict over, Negan has died for Carl and completed his hero's journey of redemption. For the last few issues, we jump forward one last time, far ahead, where Carl and Sophia are old, telling stories around a campfire to their children and grandchildren. Society is finally rebuilt for the better, and while it's nothing like life was before, it's home, and people don't die anymore. He tells the stories of his father, their companions, their adventures. As night draws and the children go to bed, Carl gives his grand-daughter Judith Rick's hat, passing the torch down to her. Alone, Carl walks the grounds of Alexandria and stares upon the mossy, crumbled statue of his father. He stares out into the distance to see something he hasn't seen in years. A walker. The last one. Out of his walking stick he pulls Michonne's Katana, stares down the walker with sad, tired eyes, and for the first time in years, kills. One last time. We are not the walking dead.