The Walking Dead is a cross-media juggernaut, with successful television shows, video games, novels, board games and, soon, three feature-length TV movies starring Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes. Given that smorgasbord of content, it can be easy to forget that the biggest moments of AMC’s The Walking Dead are ripped directly from a comic series.

Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard’s story launched the whole thing way back in 2003, and their comic is still going today. And as ratings on The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead continue to slide, The Walking Dead comic has marked its 15th year by quietly retaking its place as the most relevant — and most boundary-pushing — zombie story in the franchise.

It’s become a standard theme of post-apocalyptic zombie fiction at this point, but the goal of The Walking Dead has always been to show that what man is capable of doing to each other is much worse than any fictional apocalypse. Villains like the Governor, Negan and Alpha all showed how desperate and evil man can be when the trappings of civilization are stripped away, as Rick and his band of survivors dared to overcome these evils and provide a future for humanity.

In the comic, through co-operation and collectivism, the survivors have been successful in establishing their new world: There are no villains left to defeat. But the recent introduction of a newly discovered settlement may bring that hard won…

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