Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Zombie Review: The Walking Dead, Vol. 6 This Sorrowful Life

The Walking Dead, Vol. 6: This Sorrowful Life (v. 6) by Robert Kirkman

ZPAA rating

Adults with high capacity only (use your judgment based on content summary below)

Gore level

10 of 10--Still plenty of zombies, along with severed limbs and heads and other spurting, bony, gross stuff. What pushes this to the max is an extended torture scene (human on human) that goes on for many pages and I wish I could erase from my memory.

Other offensive content

Some pretty bad language (f-bombs and such), heavy human on human violence (beyond the extended torture scene); an extra-marital affair that apparently will end soon.

How much zombie mythology/content

Classic zombies continue to roam the pages of this book, though the focus is definitely off the zombies and on the living non-dead.

How much fun

Wow, it did get worse than last time. Suspense is pretty high and so is the misery. The title is no joke. The only thing that kept me reading is that I am really interested in some of the characters. Plus, you shouldn't judge a work of art until you see all of it, a lesson I learned watching The Talented Mister Ripley. The problem is, when do you stop with an ongoing comic series?

Synopsis & Review

Three of our characters continue to languish in the misery of Woodbury. The town is run by "the Governor," a man who keeps people entertained by having gladiator matches guarded by zombies. The townspeople love it, or at least are distracted by it. Losing a gladiator to another more enthusiastic one, the Governor decides to send in Michonne for a little variety. Meanwhile Rick is recovering from losing his right hand that the Governor chopped off last issue. He gets in good with the town doctor and his lovely assistant. An opportunity to escape comes up and they go for it. But will they all get out (what have they done with Glenn, anyway?) and what will they find back at the prison?

The story remains very compelling. It's a hard book to put down, until you get to one point where I found it very easy to put down. MAJOR SPOILER HERE: My main objection to this issue is the extended "payback" Michonne gives the Governor. In the last issue, all we heard of the Governor torturing Michonne was some dialogue, which allowed our imaginations to fill in the details. In this issue, we get pages and pages of Michonne's fingernail plucking, limb chopping, eye gouging revenge in the goriest detail possible in a comic book. It's really more disturbing than anything I could imagine. Clearly, she is depicted as being crazy so maybe the author doesn't want the reader to condone her actions, but dwelling so graphically on the nuts and bolts of what she does only sickens. The author could have made his point with one or two pages, not the twelve we get. END MAJOR SPOILER

Aside from this incident, the rest of the story is very exciting and thought provoking. Should the doctor join Rick in fleeing the town? The townspeople need him, but so does Rick's pregnant wife. Should the doctor's assistant come too? Can they trust the townsman who wants to lead them out? What are they willing to sacrifice to get back the prison, or to make sure the people at the prison will be safe?

Sample Text

Rick on how he's feeling about the people in his life: "I'd kill every single one of the people here if I thought it'd keep you safe. I know these people--I care for these people--but I know I'm capable of making that sacrifice. I find myself ranking them, sometimes--looking at them and thinking--who do I like the most--who do I need the most--just in case something happened and I had to choose. I've seen so many die already--I have almost no attachment to these people anymore... And I could kill any one of them at any moment for the right reasons. Does that make me evil? I mean...isn't that evil?" Wife: "I--I don't know." Rick: Neither do I."


  1. Just concernedcatholic again... I really hope that you didn't give up on the series (I see that you haven't reviewed any of the other collections in the series since this one). It was brutal, and honestly the next collection is pretty brutal as well (not like the Governor torture scene, but unpleasant all the same).

    However, as terrible as everything gets, I still see a very Catholic message about sin, repentance, and hope. The characters do not give up, and they do commit fairly awful acts, but they also deal with the consequences of those acts... and those acts take a toll on them. I felt kind of the same way about Buffy the Vampire Slayer (well, up until the last couple of seasons)... they strayed into dangerous territory, but they usually paid the consequences.

    Anyway, the series is definitely worth keeping track of... I am interested to see what you have to say about the more recent story lines.

  2. Thanks for the wonderful feedback. I plan to return to this series very soon. I agree about Buffy--it's a very enjoyable show that takes morality fairly seriously as well as redemption for characters who do very evil things (Angel, Wesley, Faith, etc.).