Zombie fans have a reason to rejoice seeing that despite the genre’s recent collapse with less-than-satisfactory movies, the comic book medium has stepped up to give zombie genre fans exactly what they need. Writer Robert Kirkham and Charlie Adlard’s “The Walking Dead” is the zombie lovers’ dream. I have reviewed the first two volumes that collects issues # 1-12 of the highly acclaimed comic series, so now we are going for issue #’s 13-18 in “THE WALKING DEAD Vol. 3: Safety Behind Bars”.
The collection follows the theme of despair, fear, loneliness brought on by the natural progression of events when people are in the most extreme of situations. Please keep in mind that this is not a horror comic (well, maybe it is) but it is meant to be a slice of human drama when people are brought together by the most intense experiences that allows us to look at the very fabric of our society, a peek at our neighbors and the growth of our characters.
Following the events in the farm, Rick and his band of survivors that now includes Tyreese’s group have come to a place that may well be indeed very secure--a seemingly abandoned maximum security prison. The catch is, they have to kill all the zombies in the prison before they can move in. But there is a surprise in store for our crew as four convicts have been locked away in the prison’s mess hall. Despite their distrust of each other, the convicts give Rick and his crew their hospitality. Things are seemingly looking up, as Hershel and his family even join them at the secure prison. But sometimes, the most dangerous threat aren’t outside, but may indeed be locked up with them…
I have to be honest, if you haven’t read the first issues, you may not reach the utmost appreciation for the comic’s story. Not that this collection isn’t good by itself, but the charm and power of this series lies on just how much the reader becomes invested in the series’ character-driven endeavor. What makes this story powerful and effective is the fact that we can relate to their story and that things like this can actually happen when people are forced to co-exist in a very intense situation. “The Walking Dead” has an abundance of human drama as it focuses on every aspect of behavior and may even question morality. Ok, most of the time, it gets us invested in Rick as we see him grow, mature and change.
“Safety Behind Bars” explores something more sinister than the ‘walking dead’ (or undead) and as the previous story arc is very character-driven. The reader is introduced to several new characters in the persons of the four inmates. This part of the story goes deep into the evil that human beings are capable of and on so many levels, may be seen as something more despicable since at least the zombies don’t prey on one another. This story arc has a lot of scenes that are truly unnerving as we see our characters look at themselves and question their very sense of morality and sometimes, becoming something you hate is the only solution.
There are panels that really prove to be heart-rending as we see some folks lose their composure, hope and any sense of pride and dignity as it plummets into the a wish to die. This volume also brings some light or more definition to the rules of the zombies and how one is turned. This story arc has more sex and nudity than the earlier issues, and I thought that this a clever move to express the fact that our characters are in a sense of security and have grown more comfortable with each other.
Not surprising, that this volume has more gore and blood, action and intense brutal scenes than the previous issues. The set ups are pretty credible as we see Rick, Tyreese and Andrea kill the zombies in the prison almost exhausting their supply of bullets. Tyreese’s suicide-mission to clean out the gymnasium of zombies was incredibly surprising…and so cool? Please be warned since this collection has a lot of gore and blood--violence directed at kids and women.
The writer has clearly began to feel really comfortable in his creation; illustrated by Charlie Adlard once again, the look and feel of the comic has that dirty, enthralling gritty atmosphere. Those who are looking for hot babes and great muscular characters are better off looking elsewhere, the characters created by Kirkham and Adlard look very realistic and definitely looks like “one of us” that gives them a lot of character.
So just what is society without government or law? Well, humans can dish out justice as they see fit. But without the restraints of social and political acceptance, humanity can only try to re-establish themselves. But what happens when this new world is a world without the convenience of following rules of morality…what then?
Highly Recommended! [5 Stars]