Top positive review
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"There's nothing for us here..."
on 27 June 2014
This review is largely spoiler free, though I do make reference to events in the previous volume….
As the front cover suggests, it’s now winter and post-apocalyptic America is blanketed in snow. As the group of survivors pay their last respects (or spit vitriol) at Shane’s grave during the first few pages, lurking at the back of their minds are the hot topics of leadership and food. Rick semi-officially takes ownership of the tough decisions and the troupe hit the road. As I say – this all takes place at the beginning of the volume, so after the first few pages the RV starts a life-or-death road-trip and the realities of finding resources are jarringly stark.
As with the first volume, the story is less about zombies and more about the soap-opera politics of every day life. And Volume 2 doesn’t disappoint there – from young love and dealing with loss, to mature physical relationships and the ugly side of desperation – sometimes you forget that world is full of walking, rotting, stinking corpses. The true horror of this volume again bypasses the zombie horde and is more focussed on the personal losses experienced by some, by concerning itself with a few tragic losses rather than the whole sorry situation, Kirkman is able to successfully inject more emotion into the story. Some characters behave in unpleasant ways but we understand their actions because we sympathise with them. Throwing out a band of refugees into the hideous wilderness seems heartless, but when we see a man lose his children and have to provide for the rest of his family with limited resources – such an act seems to make more sense.
Some other reviews have criticised the artwork here because some of the characters look less distinct. I didn’t notice it at first but when having a second look I can see how the differences between characters are less defined than in Volume 1. The artwork is far from shoddy however and there is good use of heavy blacks and a pleasant symmetry to the frames on most pages which I only realised when checking back through the book. Those who are reading the books after watching the TV series may be surprised at how quickly paced this is in comparison – this roughly covers the second series, though many characters and events are different. I do feel that because I have watched the TV series, I have benefitted from extra character development as the book has so much happening that no single character has a large chunk of time spent with them. That is not a criticism – these are two different mediums and the books are much more epic in their scope, the character development *is* there and it’s important to not compare key events between the two as they run on massively different timescales. Also worth mentioning is the Afterword by Simon Pegg – the guy is a zombie aficionado and his observations on zombie culture aren’t ground-breaking (they mirror what you’d hear in any Romero documentary) but his piece is neatly constructed and ‘updated’ for the modern zombie-fan, plus his advice to read The Walking Dead like a zombie and “take it slow” is spot on.
In a nutshell: I feel a bit mean giving this 4 stars but Amazon won’t let me give 4.5. Though not as strong as the first volume and with dialogue which seems a tad less ‘real’ than before, this is still a strong book and ranks higher than most graphic novels I’ve read. My other half is ahead of me at the moment and she also felt that volume 2 dipped slightly, but she also assures me that The Walking Dead picked up in the third volume and maintains the level for some time. Yes – the art is a bit different but taste will determine whether you prefer it or not, I preferred Moore’s artwork but that doesn’t mean I dislike this. Volume 2 almost felt as though it was setting the scene for the very last page, making us aware of how important a goal our band of zombie-dodgers have of finding sanctuary – I didn’t feel at all let down by this book, instead it felt like a stepping stone to the next phase – and I’m going to stop typing now and start on Volume 3.