There, having said that, let's get to the business at hand.
I am a late-comer to the Walking Dead craze that is gripping the nation. It's not that I don't enjoy a good zombie show- I do- and let's be honest, it doesn't get much better than The Walking Dead.
No, I came into it largely by accident. I stumbled into the Blue-Ray for sale at Best Buy and begged, pleaded, and otherwise cajoled my wife into watching it with me. This went on for a while until I think I finally ended up guilting her into it for my birthday.
The TV show was great, and really it deserves it's own post, and I'll probably get there when I start watching season 4 in October. Maybe I'll plan a running commentary or something like that. But the long and the short of it was that I loved the show. And, loving the show and already loving graphic novels, well, it wasn't long before I had to read the whole series.
And I did. Last night, to be precise, I finished #18 of the paperback reprints which catches me up(at least for the paperback editions). I love what this story is doing with the genre. I love a good scare, and who doesn't, but it seems that The Walking Dead is doing so much more than that. I've found that when I watch a zombie movie I get into it, get to know the characters, and just as I'm ready to grab my shotgun and jump on board for some brain-exploding action-poof. The climax of the show is reached and I'm left thinking that it really could have been a lot better. It was just getting started.
Adapting the focus from horror to drama has been at the root of WD's success in my opinion. Giving us compelling characters and exciting story lines, as well as showing us moving character arcs and hey, throwing in suspense and scares the whole way are all part of the magic. Robert Kirkman has done a magnificent job of blending an otherwise (let's be honest, ridiculous idea ie. zombies) and making it accessible to a much wider audience. And he has done it with great writing.
There are a few things that are drawbacks for me. I wish the artwork was different, maybe full color, but I understand the choice and respect what it does for the tone of the series. I know a lot of people love it, and I don't dislike it, but it's just a personal preference. Language is another. At the risk of getting a ton of emails saying that I'm being a prude and free speech and artistic licence and all that other stuff, I'm just going to come out and say it. It may be true that some people speak like that. In the characters themselves it rings true, so I don't criticize the choice to put it in. All I'm saying is that the profanity is a little more prolific than I would normally like to read. So if you are thinking of reading these, keep that in mind, although, in this genre, you should kind of expect it.
#18 specifically was a fun issue. In it we join Rick in Washington in his little walled community in the wake of Glenn's death and the subsequent surrender of the town to the domination of Negan and the group called "The Saviors". Rick is down but not out and you have the definite feeling that he is planning something. Also in this episode we see Carl turning more and more into a psychopath. I mean, don't get me wrong, he's been through a lot. And he's a pretty bad @$$ little guy, but I'll be honest, he's the character in the whole series that most creeps me out. By the way, side question: Is there anybody besides me that thinks that Carl in the books is 100 times cooler than Carl in the show?
Anyway, the story here is about Carl. After being ashamed of his dad surrendering to Negan, he hides in a truck with an M-16 and rides back to Negan's hideout. He jumps out of the truck and, surrounded by 30-40 people just starts blowing them away after making the demand they give up Negan. He's eventually knocked to the ground and captured. Negan brings him up to his room and tries to humiliate him. When asked what he thinks Negan should do with him, Carl responds, "If I were you, I'd jump out of the window to save me the trouble of having to kill you." Like I said. Bad. @$$. And more than a little scary. The artist, Charlie Adlard, really manages to get the eyes down so that they legitimately creep you out.
I won't spoil everything. The ending isn't much of one. Rick gets Carl back in a way that makes you feel like Negan is just luring Rick into a false sense of security. Randomness abounds in the last pages as suddenly we learn of "The Kingdom", another community, this one dedicated to the fall of Negan. They have armored knights and even a King with a pet tiger that made me more than a little jealous. It's as though a group of LARPers stumbled out of the woods and discovered the world had ended and decided to keep playing. Still, it's fun, I'm looking forward to see where it goes.
Overall, the series is a solid 4 stars, and that's the rating I give to #18. Could have been better, but not by much.