The following contains spoilers for The Walking Dead comic.
The Walking Dead will get around to finishing its 10th season…eventually. As we all know by now, The Walking Dead had to delay the conclusion to its Whisperer War arc due to the coronavirus pandemic holding up postproduction on its final episode, “A Certain Doom.”
One day, however, that arc will finally be complete with our heroes confronting Beta’s horde of walkers. Then it will be time to move onto the next batch of stories inspired by Robert Kirkman’s comic series. And when that time comes, it will mean the introduction of one of the series coolest, most proficiently badass characters: Mercer.
The Walking Dead has already teased that some new characters are on the horizon in a short clip from episode 16. Not only does the clip bring Maggie back to the show, but it also introduces a new character in an iron mask, welding some truly awesome scythed weaponry. Upon this mystery person’s introduction, fans tore through The Walking Dead Fandom wiki looking for a character from future comic issues that could be behind this iron mask. Mercer appears to be as good a guess as any, though still unlikely due to the timing of when he appears (and the fact that he’s never been known to don an iron mask and act as a walker-killing lone wolf). Still, regardless of who Iron Mask is, this is as good a time as any to get introduced to Mercer and what he means to the series going forward.
Mercer (it’s unknown whether that is his first name or surname…not entirely unlike the similarly mononymatic Negan) is introduced in the comic’s New World Order arc and remains in the series through to the very end. Yes, we’re coming up on the end of the written material for The Walking Dead. After New World Order comes The Rotten Core, and then the final Rest in Peace. Mercer is around for each one and plays a pretty enormous role throughout. Mercer is the lead officer of the Commonwealth Military.
The Commonwealth is a sprawling collection of communities with a population nearing 50,000 people. It’s first discovered by Eugene via radio in the comic and that appears to be where Eugene, Ezekiel, and Yumiko are headed in the show as well. The Commonwealth is essentially the first nation-state in The Walking Dead universe and by far the largest society in the series. A community of that magnitude requires a lot of martial backing to keep citizens safe from both the undead and the social strife of living among so many other people during the post-apocalypse. Mercer just so happens to be the one man capable enough to lead that military effort.
Mercer comes from a military background, having been a marine in his previous life. He’s very much the strong, silent type of sidekick that The Walking Dead has enjoyed bringing into the fold over the years including characters like Tyreese, Abraham, and Dwight. Mercer might be the most dynamic of them all though. For while Mercer is the consummate soldier, he also realizes that something is fundamentally wrong with the society in which he lives. The Commonwealth is pretty close to a utopia as far as post-apocalyptic societies come in The Walking Dead. People within The Commonwealth’s walls are able to do things like eat out at restaurants, watch live football games, and just generally live their lives the way they were before. That peace in serenity, however, comes at a cost.
The Commonwealth is a severely stratified society with very clear haves and very clear have nots. Mercer is technically among the elite of this society as head of the military and Governor Pamela Milton’s right-hand man. But he is an intelligent, sensitive person and realizes the social inequality is unsustainable long-term. He’s also just sick of having to act as Pamela’s rotten son Sebastian’s errand boy. Mercer is just itching to stage a military coup, overthrow Pamela, and install a more equitable form of government for all of The Commonwealth’s 50,000 citizens. Thankfully, that opportunity arrives in the form of some useful interlopers from Alexandria. What happens next is a political conflict that sees The Walking Dead through all the way to the end of its run.
Ultimately, Mercer is more than just a tool for The Walking Dead’s political commentary. He’s a fascinating, dynamic character in his own right. He is a creative fighter, utilizing his futuristic armor and a finely-sharpened axe to take care of walkers with ease. He also eventually begins a romantic relationship with another recently-introduced character, Princess. It’s easy to see why fans would want him to be the mysterious character in the iron mask. The sooner we get to Mercer the better. We will likely just have to wait for season 11 before he enters the fold.