There has been a paucity of really great issues of this series over the past 3 years, but in terms of what this issue did, I think it ranks with the last truly great episode (which was out a year ago) in issue 83 (and you can click here for a synopsis of what happened in that issue) ;
The Walking Dead tends to stick to a cyclic plot progression. Rick & co. meet new people, new people have own community, Rick & co. unsure / wary of new community, eventually all hell breaks loose, and their may be some zombies thrown into the mix (just to remind you that though the living are the real threat, this is generally marketed as a ‘Zombie’ comic). Rick & co. regroup, and the whole cycle starts again.
Issue #95 (or ‘part 3 of A Larger World’ if you prefer) is no exception to this tried and tested formula. Rick & co. have been taken to the gates of a walled community (aka ‘Hilltop Colony’), to be introduced and welcomed into it. Several issues have led up to this particular moment, as we have seen Rick struggle with his natural instinct of distrust and finally come to an understanding with ‘Jesus’ (aka Paul Monroe), the advanced scout / lead recruiter for this new community. We are given a snapshot of life within the walls of ‘Hilltop’ thanks to Adlard’s great pencils, showing bored sentry guards, rows of trailers, a fantastic Stately building and scores of people going about their business.
So far, so the-usual-Walking-Dead of late. Slow paced, but with a little less exposition and a lot less word balloons fit to burst with Kirkman’s dialogue. But then something great and unexpected happens. Without wanting to give too much away, we are introduced to a leader / elder called Gregory, and in quick succession, another resident, Ethan, comes back from a mission that has gone wrong. There are other names, of victims, captives and potential aggressors. Then all hell breaks loose, and Rick is right in the middle of it, as usual. It really reminded me of this, for some reason;
That’s a good thing by the way.
These final pages left me really impressed, especially the final shot of Rick and his apparent nonchalance to the events that had just occurred.
For the first time in ages, I really do not know where this series is going next. Again, that’s a good thing, as the unpredictability of issue 95 left me with the distinct impression that Kirkman is planning something superb for his centenary celebrations on The Walking Dead. I really hope he can deliver on the promise of this current instalment.
The first TWLB post was 5 years ago today, on the 26th of March, 2007. In the time between then and now there has been a further 800+ posts, the frequency ranging from very productive (circa 2009) to nearly non-existent (the back-end of 2011). And somehow, despite thinking last year that I had done as much as I could with blogging, TWLB keeps chugging along on a semi-regular basis, and if it keep some people entertained for a few moments then its doing its job. To all who drop by, who comment, who add to the discussion and the topics – THANK YOU!!!
With the approach of issue 100, and beyond, of The Walking Dead, and the countdown to the ‘Something to Fear’ arc, which ties in with the landmark century, Robert Kirkman has been dropping some hints on what to expect, and how one of the pieces of art above may hold some clues…..
There is something thrilling about the primary colours, and all out action of 70’s Marvel. Plus, I love the little window in the top left that shows the roster of Heroes in the comic. The 70’s was a boom time for comics in the UK, but many titles quickly got cancelled and got ‘folded in’ to better selling titles. Which is why you get such glorious merged comics as ‘The Avengers AND The Savage Sword of Conan’, and my favourite, ‘Planet of the Apes AND Dracula Lives’ ( a perfect distillation of my comic reading as a child). I can almost smell that unique paper smell in the Newsagents, as I recall these comics and their covers loaded on groaning shelves alongside the likes of The Dandy, Beano, Whizzer & Chips, Shiver & Shake, TV Comic, Look-In, Hotspur, and Action. Anyone have a picture of a newsagents from around this time, with the racks full of these comics? If so, would love to see it commented on here.
If there is one thing that 5 years of blogging has done for me, in the context of the nostalgia exercise that I call Those We Left Behind, is that, with the power of Google, it puts flesh on the bones of memory. The Beige Box console with the Big Orange Buttons is a good case in point. For years and years finding the truth about this anomaly of console gaming has proven to be as elusive as trying to catch smoke. Well, elusive until I channeled my google-fu and after several variations on phrases like ‘retro console beige box big orange buttons’ and ‘clone console beige box space invaders’, I hit the jackpot.
What I was looking for, was the wonderfully cumbersome and completely unattractive sounding
‘Voltmace Database Game Computer’
You can speculate on the reason for the name ‘Voltmace’. Maybe the founders of the Company were Mr Volt and Mr Mace. Maybe just welding 2 masculine and arbitrary words together was the truth. I give no speculation on the application of the word ‘Database’ other than ‘Voltmace’ maybe thought the word was sufficient computer jargon to blind the customer with Science. What we have here, is a name that would not have passed muster at any other time than in the time this console was born, and we can all be thankful that that time has passed. Though if ordering online was available in the early 80’s, the people in ‘Electronic’ shops would have been spared the duty of trying to flog Entertainment / ‘Educational’ Hardware with the words ‘Database’ and ‘Voltmace’ in it.
I digress, as this moment of revelation, when I could finally put the name to one of my earliest games consoles, was a sweet victory. I quickly uncovered screenshots of games I had forgotten I had played with my Brother. I remembered the primitive and not-quite-polished gameplay. I was reminded of the fact that the Space Invaders clone that was the highlight of Christmas 1981 did not seem to have half as many Invaders as the Taito Original, and they did not form proper lines of attack.
The fact is, the Voltmace was my first true Games Console, a Beige Box with Big Orange Buttons that had a slot on top for Games Cartridges roughly the same size as the Sega Master System Cartridges. It had all the clones of the popular arcade games of the day, and clones of all the popular Atari 2600 games. The Boxing game was a real treat, especially when you were battering your opponent and its dull electronic farts of submission were accompanied by a stark apostrophe above his head, like he had no idea why he was there;
We got good value for money out of the Air Sea Battle clone, until the arrival of the most-awaited game in the whole Voltmace library, or the whole Voltmace ‘Databse’, if you will. The Space Invaders clone, despite its shortcomings, was SPACE INVADERS IN YOUR LIVING ROOM. And that was enough. The Breakout clone was always a winner – it had Mass Appeal. Even Ted Rogers on 3-2-1 had people playing the thing as part of the Quiz Show (and that was more exciting than waiting to find out if the finalists ended up with Dusty Bin. The Circus clone was a real bugger, as the little people you flung carelessly through the air with amazing speed were so little that actually getting them back on the greasy see-saw that slipped around at the bottom of the screen was akin to hitting that Exhaust Port down an armoured trench on a certain floating Battle Station by only using one shot and the ‘Force’, completely without Navigational and Targeting devices.
The Voltmace Database only plays a small part in my Gaming Timeline, but it was my first Console. Its games never really hit the heights, have not been fondly remembered, but that horrible Beige Box was my first. Thank you, Voltmace. Thank you for the days.
http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=2&c=1189 – feeling geeky? The Specs, for your amusement, are here.
http://www.videogameconsolelibrary.com/pg70-1292_vc4000.htm#Models – this was one details a whole family of these consoles, with nice pictures!
http://www.retrogamers.org/babble-article12.html – this is a truly wonderful piece, a love letter to this forgotten piece of early Console History. With great pictures!