This highlight will feature the second eight volumes of The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, how the story has progressed since the destruction of the prison, similarities and differences between the comics and the television series, and will talk a bit about the artwork within the volumes. Volumes 9-16 are also collected as Compendium Two (Issues 49-96).
Genre: Post-apocalyptic Fiction/Horror/Drama
Overall Rating: 4/5
Individual Rating: 3.5/5
In this issue, we see that Michonne has survived as she checks out the ruins of the prison and skewers the un-dead head of the decapitated Tyreese, then follows a pair of footsteps leading away from the prison. Meanwhile, Rick and Carl have found a house to lay low in for a little while. Rick finds some antibiotics for his gunshot wound and passes out with an infectious fever. Carl finds his independence, telling his dad’s unconscious form that he can take care of himself. When Rick gets better, they aim to head back to Hershel’s farm, but a phantom phone rings, with Lori on the other end. Rick finds solace in speaking through the phone, even though he knows the conversations are all in his head. He later learns that Michonne speaks to the dead in the way Rick does as well. Before reaching the farm, Michonne has found them. When they reach the farm, Rick, Carl, and Michonne are reunited with Andrea, Dale, Glenn, Maggie, and the three children. They find that they can make a life here until Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita show up and explain their mission to D.C.
This is a pretty decent transitional volume. It lacks in action, but makes up for it with the reunion of the group as well as the promise of an end goal for the group. In this volume Abraham explains how walker herds form, and that defending a farm from a herd that may show up will not work. This theory is reflected in the second season of the television series as a horde is drawn to the farm, making the place unlivable. The explanation is very well thought out and worth looking into, whether your a comics fan or a television show fan.
Individual Rating: 3.5/5
Rick is still having his private phone “conversations” with Lori as he grieves over her death and the death of their daughter, Judith. He and Abraham do not get along well and threaten each other often. Their dislike of each other continues to grow when Glenn finds Maggie hanging from a noose; when he pulls her down she is not breathing, and Abraham aims to shoot her before she turns. Rick and Glenn turn on Abraham. After CPR, Maggie is revived, but still in a wallowing depression at the loss of her entire family. When Rick, Carl, and Abraham go on a supply run to Atlanta’s police station before continuing to D.C., Rick and Abraham learn a lot about each other and how a person just has to kill sometimes. What they become is an undeniable result of the new world they live in. Meanwhile, Andrea and Dale wish to stay at a house just off the highway where they can just live out their days, but when Rick and Abraham return, they are followed by a massive horde of thousands of zombies, making staying in one place an impossibility.
While we get to learn a little bit more about Abraham in this volume, it lacks a lot of elements to keep the reader going. There is some human versus human action, but it is very minimal, and there is not anything too exciting until the end with the zombie horde. Even then, the incentive to keep reading drags in a way that the survivors drag on to find their destination. Intentional in the writing? Who knows. At least they still have a destination and end goal, for now.
Individual Rating: 3.5/5
When twins Billy and Ben are missing, adoptive mother Andrea goes out in search of them only to find that Ben has killed Billy. Ben is too young to understand that what he did was wrong, especially when the world around them only knows killing. The debate of whether or not to terminate Ben is brought up with the group, but eventually Carl shoots Ben without admitting what he did. When priest Gabriel approaches the group, clean cut and not a speck of grime on him, the group become suspicious that the priest intents them harm. He humbly invites them to his church, where the dead have not yet breached. Dale becomes warily tired of the post-apocalyptic life and wanders off in hopes of dying. When Andrea suspects the worst, they find that Dale has been taken by a group of cannibals. The leader of the cannibalistic group explains to Dale that they only survive by eating other survivors. They do not normally attack groups the size of Dales, but this time they thought picking them off would be okay, since food was becoming scarce. Dale chuckles at the fact that he was bitten and that they are eating tainted meat. Of course, Rick, Andrea, and Abraham aim to bring their man back, killing the cannibal group in the process. Andrea is grieved to find that Dale has been bitten and knows what she must do next.
Sorry television show fans, but there is no Terminus in the comics, just a rogue band of cannibals trying to survive. While the group does choose to stay at the church for a little while, ideally they will move on to D.C. soon. With that goal still set in place, the comics are a bit slow-going, but will eventually pick up once they reach Alexandria and enter Negan’s domain.
Individual Rating: 4/5
After Carl admits to to Rick about killing Ben, they have a long conversation about the needs of survival in this new world and Rick accepts Carl’s rationalization of killing Ben because the child was a threat to the members of the group. When Rick wants to get things moving along and test the walkie-talkie for the people waiting in D.C., Eugene is reluctant to hand it over. Finding this strange, Rick imposes on Eugene. Their scuffle leads the walkie to fall to the ground, the battery compartment exposed to hold no battery. With this revelation, Eugene admits that there was no one in D.C. He lied to survive, and of course, Abraham is absolutely furious. With no end goal in mind, Rick and Abraham wonder what to do with the group, but then someone new approaches them. Of course, Rick and the group are always wary of new people, and the new arrival is just too convinient with his offer. They meet Aaron and his friend Eric from Alexandria. When Rick finally puts his trust in these new people, a flare goes up. While he expects a trap, it is explained that some of the people from Alexandria were on a supply run and needed help. After aiding the people from Alexandria, Rick and the group finally get to see the safe haven and they all meet Douglas Monroe, who decides their community needs a constable, and Rick is just the right man for the job.
It was nice to finally get away from the D.C. goal. Finding out it was not a true haven made a great deal of tension arise in the group and that tension continues for a few more volumes as the group settles into the new community. It also leads us into the major arc of Alexandria. As some of you who watch the show know, a lot of stuff happens in Alexandria, and in the comics, Alexandria as a safe-haven continues for quite some time. There are a lot of new characters and there is continuing character development from those we already care about. This is a great transition volume to build into the people and expectations of Alexandria.
Individual Rating: 3.5/5
Rick isn’t the only one who has been assigned a job. Everyone who lives in Alexandria must play a contributing part to the community. Abraham is assigned to the work group that aims to clear out and extend the community. When gathering materials, the group is attacked by roamers, and when the group tends to stay in formation, Abraham breaks form to save a woman named Holly. He finds that these people do not really know how to deal with walkers efficiently; had he not broken the formation, Holly would have been dead with everyone guilty of merely watching. Meanwhile, Morgan and Michonne hook up, Rick and Carl grow distant in their relationship, and Glenn sneaks into the armory where the group had to previously relinquish their weapons in the community. The community has a false aura of safety. Rick becomes more and more out of control as he aims for everyone’s safety through violent means. Douglas concedes to allow Rick to do whatever needs to be done to keep the community safe, even if it means killing or banishing. The safety of the community is threatened when a group of people follows Heath and his scavengers from D.C. The community and the group fight each other with Andrea’s sharpshooting saving the day. When Douglas officially hands over the leadership of the community to Rick, the judgement of the community’s safety becomes questionable by its citizens.
In this volume we are introduced to a number of new characters in the Alexandria community and we see how the community is governed. When Rick comes in, we all know he tends to have a different set of politics in the post-apocalyptic world. His group of survivors has a hard time mainstreaming to the air of safety that Alexandria seems to haven, and they find that they were right to keep on guard when other people attacked. The community may appear safe, but they really need to figure out that the world outside the walls is not friendly and never will be again.
Individual Rating: 4.5/5
After Eric is stabbed by a mysterious woman and one of Maggie’s horses is taken by her, Aaron approaches Douglas to instigate Rick as the leader of the town. With the previous attack on the settlement, Carl is excited because not the people will realize that the real world is like and what it takes to live in such a world. The thing that once separated the newcomers and the people of Alexandria is now what will unite them. The gunfire from the previous assault on the town has drawn far too many zombies, and Abraham’s team cannot take them all out; a massive herd knocks at Alexandria’s walls. When the people of Alexandria get trapped in their own homes by the herd, Rick pushed Carl, Jessie, and Ron to make their way through the herd with their good old slice and cover method using organs and grime to scent their clothing. When Ron panics, too innocent to worm through the dead, he is attacked, drawing the screams of his mother. When Jessie won’t let Carl go, Rick chops her arm off to save his son. Douglas, dumb in the art of zombie-killing, shoots at the dead, but when he is bitten, he fires randomly, a stray bullet shooting Carl in the eye. With the potential looming death of his son, Rick goes berserk and realizes that zombies are easy to fight because they are dumb; it is humans who pose a greater threat for their potential to strategize. The whole community bands together to take out the herd.
This volume is packed with action from beginning to end. There are a lot of injuries and death in this one, and a lot of fighting against the walkers as well. The iconic issue in this volume is the one where Rick is trying to get Jessie, Ron, and Carl through the herd and to safety, because a lot of chaos happens there, and we can also relate the events to that part from the sixth season of the show. This volume is fun and heart-stoppingly fast-paced. Too bad not all the volumes are like this one!
Individual Rating: 3.5/5
Rick is worried about Carl and at the same time has realized what the people can really do as a community. To take up arms together is to survive against the dead. Members of the community come up with different defense ideas for the community (reinforcing the walls or building a maze for roamers to get stuck). Rick suggests that the community have regular meetings to make decisions about things. Andrea begins teaching the community members how to shoot, Rosita walks out on Abraham (and stays with Eugene), and Michonne mourns Morgan. Of course, some of the original inhabitants of Alexandria are still not keen on Rick leading them, in which they plot to kill Rick. Of course Rick will not allow himself or his people to be harmed, threatening the original Alexandrian’s with the brutality he used to survive in the post-apocalyptic world.
This is a bit of a slower volume, somewhat transitional. It demonstrates the conflicts within the community itself after both human and zombie attacks, and a reformation is needed to keep the community alive. This communal conflict will lead into reshaping Alexandria and move us gradually into the next main story arc.
Individual Rating: 4/5
This volume begins a few weeks after the conflict between Rick and the Alexandria citizens. Carl is awake and active, and the community is beginning to fall under a regular routine of events. Food, or lack thereof, is becoming a major issue for the community. When Abraham and Michonne head out beyond the designated safe zone, they run into a potential hostile who goes by the name of Jesus, who asks to see their leader. Of course, Rick is wary about all strangers, but Jesus brings promise of profitable proportions: he comes from another community called the Hilltop, willing to trade with Alexandria. Some of the main crew–Rick, Andrea, Michonne, and Glenn(along with a hitchhiking Carl)–go with Jesus to check out the credibility of the Hilltop. When the Hilltop leader is stabbed by one of his own men, Rick intervenes and kills the hostiles. At this time, Jesus explains the conflict between their group and the Saviors, a group with a lot of men and firepower, who takes a great portion of their supplies in exchange for the Hilltop group to live and be protected. The leader of the saviors, Negan, is mentioned, and Rick opts for taking out Negan and the Saviors, and Gregory, the leader of the Hilltop, agrees. With this new trade agreement, Rick feels that their own community will finally be able to thrive the way it should.
This volume is interesting in that is the introduction to the Negan arc, and Negan is inherently present for a long time after the main part of the Negan arc. Negan is an interesting character who will greatly shake things up, and this is a great lead-in and explanation of the conflict that has been going on with the Saviors and the Hilltop for awhile now, and in turn, will affect Alexandria, which the Saviors have previously struck.