Thursday, September 8, 2011

Zombie Review: The Walking Dead Vol. 9, Here We Remain

The Walking Dead, Vol. 9: Here We Remain by Robert Kirkman

ZPAA rating

Mid-teen and up.

Gore level

8 out of 10--Mostly human on zombie violence that is highly graphic as is normal for this series; one suicide by running into zombies; one instance of a guy hitting a gal.

Other offensive content

Lots and lots of bad language including f-bombs like it's the London Blitz; refusal to deal with reality by denying the loss of loved ones or wanting never to remember; rough attitudes and disrespect expressed by Rick's son.

How much zombie mythology/content

There's finally a hint that there's a reason for the dead rising from the grave. There's a guy who claims to know what's going on. Apparently he needs to go to Washington, DC, so they can solve the problem. Something the Federal Government is so good at, right?

How much fun

After some really grim times, this starts out maintaining the grimness but some hope begins to break into the story. As always the story is compelling and keeps you wanting to read more. This series is not light-hearted or for the faint-of-heart, but it makes your heart ache for the people in the story.

Synopsis & Review

The story picks up right where Volume 8 left off, with Rick Grimes and his son Carl fleeing the massacre at the prison. Most everyone seems to have died, including Rick's wife and the dreadful Governor character. I realized with him dead, maybe there will be a reprieve in the extreme and unnecessary gore and horror. Nothing in this trade paperback made me want to get it erased from my mind a la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I am grateful.

The book starts by revealing that Michonne is still alive and is following the trail of clues from the prison massacre. Eventually she winds up with Rick and Carl, who go through many trials and issues as they are forced to be on their own. They find a mysterious phone that's actually connected to another group of people who Rick decides not to join. Eventually they return to Hershel's farm to meet up with other familiar survivors and some new wandering humans on their way to Washington, DC.

The storytelling is a lot more visual, especially in the first two-thirds of the book. Many pages go by without any dialogue or very minimal dialogue. The reader gets to focus on the drawings and how they advance the story, which is great for a comic to do. Towards the end, lots of dialogue including massive chunks of exposition make up for the unwordiness of the first part.

The most interesting part to me is the issue of dealing with loved ones who have died. Many different characters try in many different ways to come to accept their losses or deny them. On the positive side of dealing with the loss, and this is a MASSIVE SPOILER, so you may want to skip on to the next paragraph, we find out who Michonne's invisible friend is. She's been talking to someone who isn't there almost from the first moment that we meet her. I assumed this was the one crazy flaw in an otherwise sane, sober, deadly ninja/ronin type character. Finally, she tells Rick that it's her dead boyfriend who has been helping her deal with the horrors she has to face. She can hear him clear as day. Rick doesn't think this is so strange, since he discovered a ringing telephone in one of the houses along the way. After talking to the woman on the other end for a while, he discovers it's his dead wife. He unplugs the phone and can still talk to her. He brings the phone with him. It's a touching moment and shows how the dead can still be a comfort or even a help to those still alive. A cynic might chalk it up to madness; a Christian to Providence. Maybe hope still exists here.

On the negative side, a lot of characters either want to forget or just never talk about their lost families and friends. They deal with the loss by denying the loss, which seems like despair to me. The people just decide to keep moving forward and dealing with what comes their way. Is that really much different from what the zombies do?

The character development is really great in this issue and I will definitely be reading Volume 10. Maybe someday I'll be caught up to the monthly comics and can review them as they come. We'll see what happens.

Sample Text

On Rick's strange phone buddy: 

Carl: Is she nice?
Rick: I've only talked to her for less than an hour over the last few days...She seems nice, but I don't know anything about her. As worried as they are about us--I'm twice as worried about them. I'm not going to be putting you in harm's way again anytime soon. They could be calling from Woodbury for all I know...
Carl: I hope she's nice. I hope they live in a really nice place and are really nice people and that we can live with them and be safe.
Rick: You and me both, son. You and me both.

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