Monday, 27 October 2008

‘The Walking Dead – The Calm Before’ (Robert Kirkman)

I’m slowly catching up with my collection of the ‘Walking Dead’ trade paperbacks and half the reason I’ve been so slow about it is because I’ve read the last few issues and I know what’s on the horizon (and it’s not pretty...)
My obsessive compulsive ‘got to get the whole set’ side won out again though and I’m back in the driving seat for ‘The Calm Before’...

While the threat of the ‘storm’ builds up throughout the story, culminating in some powerful scenes right at the end, there’s plenty of eventful moments throughout the rest of the book. ‘The Calm’ doesn’t just refer to what’s going to happen in the in the next collection, it also encompasses all those little moments of relative peace that the survivors get in the prison and contrasts these with the tribulations that must be faced.
The smallest things can prove disastrous in this post apocalyptic world; another confrontation with Woodbury is looming and something as simple as a shopping trip can turn into a gunfight. There are signs of hope though in the birth of Judith, Lori’s child that might not be Rick’s (this issue was sidestepped rather neatly, a little too neatly if you ask me...) Even here though, a generator black out almost proves fatal.

The characters in the prison also go through their own ‘calm/storm’ moments as tensions rise and relationships play out to their natural conclusions. Carol’s plot arc comes to an end in a particularly bloody way, I knew she was cracking up but I never saw that coming at all! Other relationships get into trouble but people manage to muddle through. Another relationship appears to go from strength to strength and I’m left wondering if things are a little too good to be true there and how hard things are going to hit when Kirkman inevitably pulls the rug from under them...

While it’s clear that the story needs to move out of the prison to stay fresh, Kirkman still does a great job in showing the reader that life does go on and will always throw up some nasty surprises when least expected. The last panel in the book makes it clear that the next collection is an essential purchase...

Eight and a Half out of Ten

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