Solicitation for The Walking Dead tp#13 (Image, 2010)

THE WALKING DEAD, VOL. 13: TOO FAR GONE TP
story ROBERT KIRKMAN
art & cover CHARLIE ADLARD & CLIFF RATHBURN
NOVEMBER 24
136 PAGES / BW
$14.99
Life in the community is as near as Rick and his group can ever hope to come to returning to normal life. So why is Rick so on edge? Will his behavior spell doom for everyone else? Will they let it get that far? Collects THE WALKING DEAD #73-78

The Walking Dead – the AMC trailer (2010)

Good good this looks better than I could ever possibly have hoped. Darabont is a genius with his choice of music (The Walker Brothers!) and the fact he just seems to get the mood of the comic within the opening seconds of this trailer. With a few weeks to go before it is out in America on AMC, I am hoping that the quality is as high as the trailer suggests. And then hopefully there will be more ‘Walking Dead’ than the 6 episodes commissioned.

And Andrew Lincoln IS Rick.

Review – The Walking Dead TPB 12, ‘Life Among Them’ (2010)

I recently discussed the merit of TPB over single issues, in respect of reading The Walking Dead. I (think) I came to the conclusion that trade is best. But TPB 12 ‘Life Among Them’ has set my view in concrete. I think that this trade, more than any before it, glues a bunch of single issues into a thoroughly immersive whole.

The main engine of this arc is – Rick Grime & Co. find a new sanctuary. Beyond that, we get a Eugene moment, a nice flashback of Michonne’s adventures with her Katana, and Charlie Adlards art reaching new levels of density and sophistication. I say this after reading a few pages of volume 3, and seeing how far the scratchy detail back then has bloomed into a dark, voluptuous realism. Oh, we also get a KICK-ASS (I say this in the spirit it is intended, free of irony) action segment roughly halfway through the book, which made for a truly great single issue, but is just as much of a treat slotted amongst the more typical human drama that Kirkman has made the focus of this title. And Douglas produces a terrifying, heartfelt monologue on mans inhumanity to its offspring. It is powerful stuff, and maybe only the sort of thing that would come from a father of a young child. Kirkman nails it with that speech. I found myself nodding in agreement while not wanting to read on, but being compelled to. In amongst the thousands of words that Kirkman produces for this title, that speech by Douglas stands out as a masterclass in how to write relevant, raw, emotional comic book.

Although I read the singles, reading this most recent TPB has led me to revise my opinion on several Walking Dead matters;

1) Actually, Douglas is alright.

2) And actually, Rick is a prick.

3) Eugene did what he had to do.

4) Abraham is probably the man most likely to take centre stage now. The guy has presence, leadership skills, respect and brute force if all else fails. He is as human and vulnerable as any of other main characters, but takes up a lot less dialogue balloons to get his point across to them and us. Know what I’m sayin’?

But as entertaining and compelling the book is, I detect a certain amount of verboseness creeping into the title. I am not saying it is all bad – Kirkman tends to drive the narrative of this title with a lot more words than action lately, and the quality has not really suffered because of it – but the problem with a lot of words is that you only need a few to FAIL to really stick in your mind. And I am thinking here of a scene with Andrea and Rick and she says something at the end of a big discussion, something like;

‘ I would follow you guys into hell’

or something similar.

Those sorts of generic soap opera / drama one-liners really stick in my throat. This TPB loses 1.5 points out of 10 just for that sort of generic tripe. But minor grumbles aside, this is an assured and gripping instalment in the franchise. So if I did give scores in reviews, it would get an 8.5 out of 10.

Review – The Walking Dead #76 (Image, 2010)

WARNING – SPOILERS!!!

My passion for this series was ignited by the trades. Specifically, trades 1 through to 7, and then hopped over to the singles (from #43) when The Governer was about to take Rick and the prison compound apart. What the trades gave me was a real page turner, well over 100 pages of human drama, action, death, gore, and even a few zombies (it’s an old joke that The Walking Dead is a ‘zombie comic’ that actually contains very few zombies). Recently, being a nerd and being a bit of a completist, I went back and doubled up on my singles collection of Walking Dead and bought the trade counterparts. I read Volume 8 – ‘Made To Suffer’, a few months back and found it almost suffocating in its pull towards its downbeat ending. It is one of the most nihilistic, emotionally draining comic book experiences you will read. I would not compare it with Safe Area Goradze because that would be inappropriate – those horrors were real and happened in the 1990s and once you get to the middle section of the book, and the full horror of what went on is exposed, it is not easy to forget it. I would not compare it to Maus, because again, this was an attempt to tell a true story, with a different convention to ‘Safe Area Goradze’, but it was telling a history, demanding that as long as we remember the atrocities of the past, there is a chance that we can learn from that, become better and wiser from it. Maybe. I digress. Volume 8 of The Walking Dead is an immense achievement, a poignant, terrible story. I think it is Kirkmans & Adlards best work. I do not even know if Kirkman will ever better that run of issues from around 40 to 50, and specifically the ‘No-one is Safe’ arc.

After reading Volume 8, I have recently read Volume 9, 10 & 11 in quick succession. 12 is in a small pile of books to be read over the coming weeks. What surprised me was the amount of coherence and great writing in the immediate aftermath of the events seen in ‘Made To Suffer’ – both 9 & 10 (aka ‘Here We Remain’ & ‘What We Become’ are great reads, that stand up better as collections than the jerky, episodic nature of the single issues. Having read volume 11 (aka ‘Fear The Hunters’) I was surprised how quickly it was over, and how the threat of the Hunters seemed a little tinny and hollow compared to the sheer force of evil that was The Governor.

Anyway. What I am trying to say is that I really do think ‘The Walking Dead’ works better as a 100 page plus collection. Why? Well you get to issue 76, for example, as I have done tonight, and I just know that these pages will work better sitting alongside around 100 other pages. I like what Kirkman is doing with Rick, and it was good to see the phone make a reappearance, and I get it, i really get it, Rick is going mad – I know! And it is being handled with Kirkman & Adlards usual great qualities. But there is another trend becoming more apparent over the last few issues. It’s the verbosity. Some panels are full of Kirkman words that Adlards art is a footnote. And some of the dialogue feels like it could be a try-out for a screenplay. It feels stilted. The exposition just flows and then I find myself getting to a plot development amidst all the chat and realise that the plot has taken us round the houses and back to where we were before Rick went off his head in issue 75. Sorry if that is a spoiler, I may just be saving you the time to trudge through some of this to realise that very fact.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not straying from the orthodoxy. I still love this comic. But this issue is just too wrapped up in Kirkman digging the look of his voice as words on a page, through the medium of Benjamin & Rick. It will make more sense in a trade. But I can’t shake the feeling that if I read this at least one more time I will still be left with the same impression. And that is that there are too many words in issue 76 of The Walking Dead. Too much talk, not enough doing.