It’s still debatable whether or not the Governor will be introduced in AMC’s The Walking Dead, so let’s just stick to the graphic novel series. The Governor, also known as Philip Blake, was ranked as IGN’s 86th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time in 2009; for instance, he likes feeding living people to the undead for entertainment. The background of this character in the series would have you believe that his disposition is the result of some really horrible stuff happened to his loved ones. When the zombie apocalypse reached his home in Waynesboro, Virginia, he took his group to find a safe place to ride it out. Rise of The Governor serves as a prequel, filling us in on what specifically happened to Philip Blake before The Governor became the infamous villain in the zombie series. (Read the series if you want to know how Rick Grimes & his group cross paths with The Governor…I’m trying really hard to reveal any spoilers for the prequel or the series.)
The prequel novel is divided into three parts.
Part One: The Hollow Men
introduces Philip Blake during the first few weeks of the zombie apocalypse, along with his daughter, Penny, his brother, Brian, and his two friends, Nick and Bobby. They clear out a house with the intention of bunkering down, but after one of their group dies, they decide to move on to Atlanta, in hopes of finding a refugee center…which struck me as incredibly stupid. I’m used to zombie stories that have characters trying to get OUT of a major city. I know we wouldn’t have decent horror stories if all the characters did everything perfectly, but the Blakes had me yelling, “Oh, come on!!” throughout the first part, over and over.
Part Two: Atlanta
was pretty much what I expected: it was a very bad idea. Since the POV switches between the two Blake brothers, there is a lot of emphasis on the problems within the relationship of the Blakes. However, they do meet up with other survivors, in which the new situation unfortunately causes them to get their hopes up and lower their guard…allowing even more to go wrong for them. (It’s as if the authors thought, “What else can we do to them?”) Although, at this point, Philip can’t really blame the others for his poor decision-making, or brush it off as being drunk. Philip’s daughter Penny seems more aware of the dynamics of the group than any of the adults.
Part Three: Chaos Theory
is self-explanatory, with all hell breaking loose in Woodbury, where the Blake group has taken refuge. Not surprisingly, other survivors continue to make things worse for the Blakes, and Philip reaches a breaking point. The more unstable Philip appears, the more religious Nick becomes, until it seem that Brian is the only sane one left, but Brian is portrayed as someone who can’t do what is necessary to survive, regardless of the situation (he feels bad shooting zombies — awww). There is another “bad guy” in Woodbury, but he comes off as an incredible pussy compared to The Governor in the future of Woodbury.
The only complaint that I have with this prequel is that anyone who has read The Walking Dead will likely be able to predict the ending (picture M. Knight Shamylan saying, “It’s a twist!” Robot-Chicken-style), but I recommend Rise of The Governor to any zombiephile, even if you are not a hardcore fan of the series. Rumors are that this is part of a trilogy that will depict Philip’s rise to power as The Governor of Woodbury.