Warning: The review/rant below contains major spoilers about the Governor in The Walking Dead: Rise Of The Governor novel.
I just finished reading or rather wasted my time with the horror book The Walking Dead: Rise Of The Governor written by the creator of The Walking Dead comic book Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga.
It was worse than Michael Crichton’s Sphere!
The thing that gets me about the book is that I was really enjoying this; I’m a recent convert to The Walking Dead phenomenon thanks to the excellent TV show on AMC. I think that the character of the Governor (played on the show by David Morrisey) is one of the best villains I’ve ever seen. As soon as I could I went to the local comic book shop and picked up the graphic novels. I saw the book The Walking Dead: Rise Of The Governor and decided to buy the book too.
The book focuses on Philip Blake, his daughter Penny, his brother Brian, and Philip’s friend Nick. As you probably know Philip Blake becomes the Governor and his daughter becomes a zombie or as they say on the show and comic book a walker or biter.
It starts off showing the group when the walker outbreak began and their struggles to find safe shelter. There are a few times where you think Penny will get bitten by a walker but it never happens. Instead, Kirkman wrote a nice twist, she gets killed by crazy living people then turns into a walker.
The Walking Dead: Rise Of The Governor had the characters facing many hardships, building up to Penny’s death that makes Philip become angry and crazy and logically becoming the Governor. You really see that as he captures two of the attackers that killed Penny, locks them up and tortures them every day. His brother Brian was a wimp throughout the book and Nick was often the voice of reason.
Spoiler time: Philip gets really crazy and kills a woman to feed to walker Penny. Nick tells Brian he can’t stand it anymore and a fight between Philip and Nick happens. Around this time, they wind up staying in the town of Woodbury, the same place that the Governor rules as seen in the comics and show. When they first arrive at the town, the place is controlled by Major Gene Gavin, a lunatic National Guardsman who calls himself the Major and abuses the residents.
Anyway, in the fight, Nick and Philip die. Yes. Philip Blake, the father of Penny dies! WTF! (WTF-Welcome To Facebook for young readers.)
Meanwhile, Major Gavin is getting out of control during a town meeting and kills someone who dismisses him, which leads to Brian having a change of heart. All of a sudden he kills the Major.
When someone asks him who he is, he replies, “My name is Philip Blake.”
The brother who was a wimp throughout the book uses his dead brother’s name and is the Governor we come to know! Give me a break!
Yes, he’s Penny’s uncle but Brian doesn’t love her the way her dad did. He and Nick considered putting walker Penny out of her misery. Brian was a slob who was not in great shape–a pathetic wimp who took a savage beating from his brother after Penny died. Nowhere in the book do you see him slowly coming around to Philip’s viewpoint. He can’t be the Governor. It doesn’t make any sense!
The TV show Caprica used this twist with one of its characters and it was fantastic for the show, The Walking Dead: Rise Of The Governor ripped it off, used it and it’s a disaster! You can argue that this move shows how crazy the character is but people can’t change their whole personality like that. Philip Blake was driven past the breaking point in the book and was transforming into the Governor we know from the comic. Pathetic Brian should have become Milton Mamet, never the Governor.
I see The Walking Dead comics, TV show and novels as alternate universes from each other. The Governor in the comic is the most brutal of the three. Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), the main character and hero, still has his hand in the TV show and there are many differences so when I watch the Governor on TV, I’m watching Philip Blake, Penny’s dad, not Brian. I just hope they keep it that way when the Governor returns in a future season.
I didn’t care for the book, either, because I thought the writing was way too florrid and purple — the second book is a little better (or maybe more tolerable because I listened to the audio version).
The novels, though, are tied into the comic, not the show — in the follow-up, The Road to Woodbury, the physical descriptions of Blake, as well as some of the other Woodbury crew, matches the comic. The TV version of the Governor may not share this same origin, and we might never know since flashbacks really aren’t their thing.