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Rick Grimes and his band of survivors have found a promising safe haven: a well-defended prison with lots of fences, gates and other areas where the zombie menace can be contained. Of course, the prison itself has to be cleaned out of zombies first, and the surviving inmates have to be negotiated with. Eventually it looks like the gang has a new home...but a spate of murders suggests this might not be for long.

The third volume of The Walking Dead has our heroes reach the next stage of the traditional post-apocalypse, survival horror narrative: having survived the road trip they're now fulfilling the 'living in a safe haven with other survivors' trope. As usual, Kirkman plays the cliches pretty straight, to the point where there is some enjoyment found in identifying which character is about to be offed next by the serial killer or the zombies, which other one is about to crack up next and which one of the new characters is a good guy and which is a psychopath. Kirkman's writing steps up a notch here with more focus on character-building and giving the protagonists more depth. The book ends on a cliffhanger with two groups facing off against one another, but both sides are pretty justified (from their own POVs) for why events have built to this impasse, with bad calls and mistakes from both parties.

There's some other nice ideas here, including impressively logical story developments. Volume 2 saw our heroes split into two bands with the final parting appearing to be permanent. However, with the discovery of the apparently zombie-safe prison not far up the road, the first group nips back to tell the second about it and they agree to re-team up. This is not satisfying from the POV of emotional drama, but is a pretty sensible and realistic thing to do (though it probably worked between on the monthly book, when the separation and reunion were separated by months, rather than in the collected edition where it's a few minutes). There's some more entertaining zombie kills and effective action beats.

Where this edition really succeeds is in deepening and darkening the story beyond its predecessors. The serial killer story is disturbing, with some sick moments showing that other humans may be more dangerous than the zombies to the survival of the group. There's also a few other storylines that delve into the more psychological aspects of trying to survive in a dying world, showing the writer flexing his muscles and trying out some different and interesting techniques this time around.

Some of the same weaknesses from before remain. Dialogue is still patchy, with a tendency towards over-explaining things, and the artwork is still variable (though better than the second collection), with again the zombies being well-portrayed and the main characters less consistently so.

Still, Safety Behind Bars (***½) shows the story developing along the right track. It'll be intriguing to see where the story goes next. The graphic novel is available now in the UK and USA.
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Volume 2 ended with Rick looking at the prison after a scrabble to find some kind of safe dwelling and muttering “It’s perfect. We’re home”, in Volume 3 we smash through the gates and see if redecorating the walls with zombie brains can turn the over-ran prison into a fortress away from danger…

It’s an opportunity too good to pass up – a prison, a facility designed to separate a group of people from the outside world, a facility with fenced off grounds for growing food and recreation, a facility with watchtowers and heavy metal gates and barred windows to make to make you feel untouchable. The task may be tricky but the reward is sanctuary. It’s a messy job but someone’s got to do it and although there is optimism in the air, there’s also tragedy. I’ve likened this to a soap opera in previous comments and elements of Volume 3 continue that approach, it’s perfectly depicted in a scene where the washing is being hung out and discussion turns to man trouble. Once again zombies are in the background and that’s pretty much where they remain whilst the book deals with the personal stories of the group we are beginning to know much better than before. Volume 2 sped through events and it was easy to be overwhelmed, in this volume there are more characters introduced but time is spent allowing them to interact. This is arguably the most grizzly volume of the first three and the true horror comes not from the the walking dead, but from within the group – and that’s a far scarier concept, especially when it looks as though they’ve finally found a place to feel safe.

The group now has some very close relationships, even the kids are starting to partner off! Life is continuing for the survivors and there’s considerably more shenanigans than in the TV series! It’s not a cozy love nest though and not everyone is enjoying a new romance. Rick starts to unravel, the toll of responsibility makes him go a little “Judge Dredd”. The group cling onto the idea of a secure environment but their leader seems a little unbalanced. When you start society anew you need rules. Where’s the moral compass when there’s no legal system?

Stylistically this looks superb, Volume 2 received some criticism but the 3rd Volume nails it. There are blacks fading to grey in the background to give sense of perspective and focus, this brings the prison to life. Also, the conversation between characters is much more natural now, not just that but through their conversation we see Rick’s plan to turn the prison into a thriving micro-community. Despite having to fell zombies and drag their bodies out to burn them, there is humour here and the conversations flow like they would between any group of friends/associates/family. It’s crucial that the characters are plausible if we’re to be drawn into their world, and there’s more depth here than ever before.

In a nutshell: A fantastic volume which starts with optimism and then challenges everything. Time is invested in character development and there are shocking moments which result in some very dark moments. I did notice a glaring spelling mistake (“somwhere”) – but I shall forgive it!
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Volume 3 of The Walking Dead might be the bleakest, bloodiest and most miserable in the series so far - and the first two volumes were pretty damn miserable! This is a book where the dead are dug out of their graves just to be shot in the head, and that’s not even counting the butchered children or the suicide pacts!

So the group have made it to a prison which is infested with zombies but, once cleared, could be a safe haven for them. Inside are a handful of remaining inmates - but can these convicted criminals be trusted around the families?

At this point in the series I’ve actually started to remember some of the characters’ names as a core number have survived but the cast is still very big and is continually dropping off and adding new characters so it’s difficult to care all that much when someone dies.

Robert Kirkman’s dialogue also isn’t as terrible in this book though the tone remains unrelentingly dark. When kids are being killed or are planning on killing one another, the adults are standing around shell-shocked, crying internally or externally, with characters like Rick or Hershel melodramatically blaming themselves for all the death. When Rick dug up Shane to shoot him in the head again, I had to laugh at how absurdly depressing it all was - even when you’ve been killed once you’re not safe!

I did notice one weird detail Kirkman’s added: whether you’ve been bitten or not, once you die, you become a zombie (also they call them zombies in the book, unlike the TV show where they’re called “walkers”). I don’t understand how that works - if you have the potential to become a zombie, shouldn’t you become a zombie rather than wait to die off?

The inmates added an interesting slant as the story became a murder mystery over which one of the prisoners chopped up the kids, and the reveal was a surprise. There’s also the requisite zombie action which has already become rote and, despite the large cast, I’m not really interested in about 90% of their mundane stories.

I still don’t fully see what fans of the series do but the third volume is definitely a step up from the previous books and even manages to become quite exciting in parts. I’m bumping the rating up a star because Rick literally tells the ever-annoying Lori to shut the f up!
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on 23 August 2005
After reading the previous two graphic novels (Days Gone Bye and Miles Behind Us) I wondered how Kirkman would keep the despair, tension and the absolute horror of this series going.
I shouldn't have worried.
Safety Behind Bars puts the main characters (Ex-cop Rick and his trusty sidekick, Tyreese) through their own personal hells with one of the best-written plot lines that I've ever encountered. The shocks come when you least expect them, with Kirkman using his skill of misdirection to the max, while the subplot of little Carl's "love life" adds a wonderful touch of lightness to the whole package. With a couple of real body-blows, this really gives Walking Dead fans something to sink their teeth into.
With old and new friends popping up (in more ways than one!), this is a wonderful and thrilling story as long as you've read the other two books first.
Five stars - but only if you're already part of Robert Kirkman's world...
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Third volume in the series collecting editions of horror comic the Walking Dead. This one contains all of issues thirteen to eighteen. And it's not bad as a jumping on point but you don't get much of an introduction to the characters because it continues right on from where the last volume ended, so new readers are better off starting with volume one.

As with previous volumes this runs all six parts that it collects together into one long narrative.

Also as with previous volumes, this being the story of a group of survivors struggling to stay alive as the undead overrun the Earth, it doesn't pull any punches in depicting the horror of the situation and various other horrible things that might happen in this instance, so it's not for the squeamish.

Volume two ended on a cliffhanger, with the characters having found what looks like a good place to shelter. But there are zombies who are already there to be dealt with. Plus people who are there as well.

Trust issues result.

Then there's all the implications of their new home to consider. Whether they bring other people in. And some things they discover about the zombies lead to a few things from the past having to be dealt with.

That's the first half of this volume, which rates four stars because it's very good but doesn't quite hit the heights volume two did, when that made the reader consider the moral implications of the situation.

But the second half of this volume does make it worth five stars as a whole. Because once again things happen that force the characters to have to make very tough choices. And it makes the reader consider what they might do in a similar situation.

This half of this volume is probably the strongest the series has been so far. And again, it ends on a big cliffhanger that promises more trials and tribulations come volume four. This will make you want to get that as soon you can. This is another quality volume in a quality series.
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on 13 May 2012
Sex. That is the name of today's theme. Creed, colour, gender, age are all explored as everyone is at it like rabbits. It might seem a little gratuitous at first but in an end of the world situation it is quite understandable. It's what people did before television and when you aren't running for your life then you need something to take your mind of the impending oblivion.

In addition to sex the secondary theme is policing your own. What happens when your fellow survivors start to cross lines? Can you really afford to start shooting the living in the head when it's all hands on deck? What sins can you forgive and is the end of the world a clean slate for the mistakes of your youth.

Once again it's all about the talking but there are a few good expressions that say more than words so the art isn't always playing second fiddle. There was one outstanding use of speech bubbles so Kirkman is innovating in all directions. This is a very mature work with a lot to think about and a huge body count. There is a great cliff hanger too. Once again this continues to be a strong Thumbs Up!
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on 10 July 2005
I absolutely loved the first volume of this series, but felt a little disappointed by the second - it didn't have quite the same level of atmosphere and tense claustrophobia as the first.
Well I'm very pleased to say that the series picks up again with this volume. By moving the setting to a prison, Kirkman has upped the tension and made the atmosphere more oppresive than the previous volumes. And I'm pleased to say that he successfully brings all the potential for darkness, tension and shock from this in to the story, which has a few shocking twists.
The genius of Kirkman's work is simply revealed in the title, with its several layers (zombies=walking dead; our culture=walking dead - read the blurb on the back!), and in this volume the characters are facing up to their situation, that in effect THEY are the walking dead: at anytime they might be the next one to die, despite their attempts to stay alive. And in an ingenious plot development, this is literally the case.
The only flaw of this book is that there are so many characters, not everyone is given the space for us to become attatched to them or to get an idea of what their motives are. Having said that, Kirkman successfully anchors the story around a core of characters, who he skillfully has developing and changing as the story progresses.
Adlard's artwork is fantastic: when it was announced Moore (illustrator of vol 1) was leaving, I was disappointed as his art is superb. But Adlard's monochromatic, shadowy work perfectly captures the darkness at the heart of this story.
Once again, I can't wait to read the next installment, especially as this volume ends on quite a cliff hanger!
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on 28 April 2009
I love this series. I've been a fan of the zombie genre for years and 'Walking Dead' is up there with the best... many of the conventions we are all used to are repeated here - but this is no bad thing. What sets the series apart is that it does what the best of the genre (Romero) excels at - an examination of the human reations to extreme conditions. The series isn't constrained by a two and a half hour running time of a movie, giving much more time to let the reader get to know the characters. In this installment the survivors take refuge in an abandoned prison, with predictably gruesome results. Shocking choices are made and the attempt by the group to maintain any semblance of normality is challenged... recommended. I've taken a star off as I'm not so fond of the art style which seems to have changed (and not for the better) since volume 1.
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on 3 March 2014
I chose this rating for the walking dead volume 3 safety behind bars for the following reasons: the artwork is sophisticated the story is well planned out and easy to follow the books don't cost a load to buy and its truly gripping
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on 1 April 2013
Make no mistake - this is one of my best "buys" of recent months. I hadn't read any of TWD comics before but had heard many good things about them. I therefore decided to buy the first four volumes as a "taster". I loved the books and actually ended up buying the much larger Compendium books (volumes 1 & 2) which collate the all of the "Volume" books up to Volume 15 or thereabouts. So my suggestion is: if you are intent on buying this, go ahead - the quality of paper, binding and print is fantastic. That said, if you think you might get "hooked" on these comics, you may want to go for the two Compandium books, which are even better value for money.
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