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"I'm looking forward to eating one of those fresh tomatoes!"
on 30 July 2014
Volume 7 contains editions 37-42 of the original weekly comic. After the intense pace of the last volume, the title of this book “The Calm Before" suggests a more gentle time for the group as they continue to sort out the prison, clearing the mess caused by the unwanted zombie-visitors and learning an important lesson in the process: always shut the gate. The cover shows a touching image of Lori’s considerable bump while Rick’s fingers interlock with hers as they rest their hands on her tummy. It should be a happy moment, but what kind of world will their baby experience? And then there’s the issue of who the father is. Meanwhile, Alice is preparing the prison infirmary... We’ve had plenty of deaths in The Walking Dead, perhaps it’s time for some births and marriages.
The most obvious aspect to this volume (barring some events which I won’t spoil) is the semblance of normality. We see a group of people playing sports, supermarket shopping and even a spot of flat pack furniture assembly. As Hershel tends to his tomatoes and winter clothes are recycled into summer clothes, the prison is almost like a hippy commune (with guns) rather than an oasis in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. This is a dialogue heavy volume and those who criticised some of Kirkman’s simplistic dialogue from the early volumes can relax now, the characters are bedded in and no longer need establishing, so gone are the clumsy exchanges which served to define personalities even if they didn’t fit in with the scene.
After their previous excursions it’s nice to see the group pulling together, Rick and Lori having family time, banter and moments of humour. This is what gives The Walking Dead an edge over many other similar stories, time can be taken to focus on the characters rather than circumstances and Volume 7 concerns itself with exactly that. But with a title like “The Calm Before” – you’re always expecting the storm, and caring for the survivors makes the wait even more intense.
In a nutshell: Killing zombies is mainly as part of target practice when tin cans become too easy to hit. There may be less action this volume, but life provides enough drama at times. It’s a solid volume – completely different to the last 2, this could well be the calm before one epic storm, this volume makes me hope they’ve prepared enough for it.