Thursday, August 26, 2010

Zombie Review: The Walking Dead, TP 2

The Walking Dead Volume 2: Miles Behind Us by Robert Kirkman

ZPAA rating

Late teens and up (use your judgment based on content summary below)

Gore level

8 of 10--Zombies are less prominent but still gruesome in glorious black and white (or at least as close as you can get to glorious in black and white).  So, close to a 10 for gore.

Other offensive content

Lots of bad language (f-bombs and such), human on human violence and abusive language, an extra-marital affair that causes stress and acting out, several instances of sexual activity. There's no nudity but there's also no doubt about what is going on.

How much zombie mythology/content

There's still no explanation of the origin of the zombies, but that isn't what the book is really about. Some of the characters flirt with the idea that maybe the zombies could be cured, but the idea is presented as impractical and highly unlikely (how do you unrot flesh?).

How much fun

The enjoyment of The Walking Dead series is not based on fun, wise-crackin' zombie hunters. The series tries to delve into the issues of how people would react and would change for better and for worse during a zombie apocalypse. The conflicts are resolved in thoughtful and thought provoking ways.

Synopsis & Review

Volume Two of The Walking Dead starts with the burial of the previous leader of our group, Deputy Shane. A flashback reveals that he had at least a one night stand with Sheriff Rick's wife. Very soon after the group packs up to go, she reveals that she is pregnant. It isn't stated but is clear that she isn't sure who the father is. Thus begins their life on the road to find a more permanent place to settle since it's fairly clear the government isn't going to come and save people near major cities like Atlanta.

The group must be moving north, because they deal with a lot of snow. On the way, they pick up an African-American ex-football player, his daughter and her boyfriend along the way. With the RV getting very tight, the group jumps at the chance of living in a gated community they stumble upon.

Spoiler alert!! The gated community does not work out so they hit the road again. As they hunt along the way for food, Rick's son is accidentally shot by a farm hand on a nearby farm. The farmer is a former veterinarian named Hershel Greene. Greene patches up the son and lets them stay while the son recuperates. When Rick asks if they can stay in the barn, Greene says no because his other son is in there along with other zombies. Greene hopes that they will be cured. Rick thinks that's crazy. The situation deteriorates when a failed zombie capture results in the death of several people and the extermination of the 10 or 15 zombies in the barn. Then Glenn from Rick's group shacks up with one of the farmer's daughters, causing more trouble. Tense discussions are had and Greene kicks them off the farm. Quickly running out of food on the road, the group thinks they've hit the jackpot when they find a prison that looks like it's still intact.
End Spoiler!!

Seeing the group abandon the 1950's concept that the government/army will save them, they begin their search for a more or less permanent home. This hope is quite palpable and they start to wonder what a normal life would be like. They never get too far because problems keep cropping up to force them to move on both physically and personally from whatever comforts they may find. Life seems only to get harder for them as a parent dies, they face a pregnancy without the familiar medical care, gas and food become more scarce. The hope of a stable future is what keeps moving them forward. The end of this volume gives them what they think will be a permanent solution.

The plot moves along fairly well. Characters come and go (yes, "go" is mostly a euphemism for "die") at a reasonable pace, i.e. they aren't one-dimensional stereotypes but well thought out and well developed. And well executed (in both senses of the term). The reader does start caring more and more for the core group. Intriguing subplots are woven into the story as well (what are the daughter and boyfriend up to besides intimate relations?).

I can't wait to find out how they deal with the new situation they are given at the end of this book. Come on, volume three!!

Available at Amazon (see link below) and at fine comic stores near you, like my favorite Third Eye Comics in Annapolis, Maryland.

By the way, here's the trailer for the series that will start on AMC Halloween night 2010:

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