WARNING: Spoilers through Volume 24 (issues 139-144) of The Walking Dead comics.
I know I’m not alone in feeling like Volume 23 of The Walking Dead was comprised of a bunch of filler issues, but wow, did Volume 24 make up for it. I just wish it hadn’t done so in such a heart-wrenching manner!
Nah, who am I kidding, I know these comics are eventually going to rip my heart out, and it’s actually probably WHY I read them.
“Life and Death” did start out a bit slow, with the three communities still planning for the big fair. The one part that confused me a bit was the fact that Michonne is now apparently part of a fishing crew; that, combined with her sudden backstory reveal, didn’t sit very well with me – it felt like awkward, forced storytelling, though I suppose it was nice to find out why she ran off and was avoiding Ezekiel and her relationship with him. The only thing that balanced out the bad in this particular scene was seeing so much interaction between Rick and Michonne, including being reminded that they’re basically “best friends”. Things are still messy in the world of TWD – and Michonne is one of the messiest people of all in terms of relationships – but her and Rick, and Rick and Andrea, are some of the positive things I look forward to in every new installment of this comic.
Meanwhile, Negan is still locked up in a basement…sort of. The fact that his cell door popped open and he remained where he was and didn’t wreak any havoc is interesting, but at the same time I kind of just wish he would go away. I won’t pretend that I don’t swear from time to time (okay, maybe too much), but reading his language gets old really quick. That, and the whole Negan story was already drawn out long enough. Just stop already.
Things aren’t exactly perfect at the Hilltop, either. In my Volume 23 review I mentioned that Gregory’s assassination attempt was so bad as to be almost funny, but I was still surprised to see him pleading that he hadn’t done anything at all. Honestly, I think that this whole Hilltop arc between him and Maggie was weak. With every appearance, Gregory seemed more and more like a joke, and while I’m not totally on board with Rick’s rules about not killing people anymore, Maggie deciding to hang Gregory seemed forced and out of character, regardless of the reasoning. That said, perhaps they’ll use this situation to make Maggie into a harsher, less forgiving character, so I’m going to avoid too much judgment until I see how she handles the new threat of the Whisperers.
Speaking of the Whisperers, I kind of have to repeat myself here and say oh, Carl. Carl, Carl, Carl.
He was really starting to grow on me in recent volumes, but Kirkman clearly wanted to perpetuate the idea that all teenage boys lose their minds along with their virginity. And he also can’t let Rick catch a break – even after Rick allowing Carl to move to the Hilltop, Carl still has plenty to hold against his dad – and everyone else who isn’t Lydia, apparently. Of course it seemed too good to be true that Alpha would just allow Lydia to leave the Whisperers, especially when she has a zombie horde to play army for her – but is that just me being jaded from having read this series for too long?
Granted, Alpha had the “last word”, if you will, by killing many prominent (and not-so-recognizable) members of the three communities – including Olivia, Ezekiel…and Rosita. Who’d just announced that she was pregnant. But if there’s anything The Walking Dead has taught me, it’s that there’s usually something just as bad – or worse – lurking around the next bend in the road. Needless to say, I’m already impatient to read Volume 25! (Though not impatient enough to start reading the issues one by one. I like my larger dose of TWD, thank you.)
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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Tags: the walking dead, twd
Review by Karl Verhoven
In some alternative universe there’s a Charlie Adlard who drew some X-Files stories and never transferred to The Walking Dead. Perhaps he spent an unhappy time trying to mould his style to superheroes before retiring to run a Shropshire pub. It would have been tragic. This book finishes with his 138thWalking Dead story, and he’s been a model of consistency throughout, designing new character after new character, telling the story when it needs to be told, and producing the occasional vista when able. Horror? Oh yes, he can do that as well. Life and Death is no different.
Of course, if it’s Adlard’s 138thWalking Dead story, it’s Robert Kirkman’s 144th, and to celebrate he returns an old favourite character. It’s been some while since we’ve seen Michonne, but she’s not surplus to requirement, just moved into a new role, and we finally learn the guilt she’s been carrying around with her before she met Rick Grimes and co, and of the guilt she’s fostered since. Kirkman’s become very good at endowing the cast with complex emotions, and ensuring these motivate what makes them behave in certain ways. In Whispers Into Screams manipulation was spotlighted, and it continues from a different source in Life and Death. With the zombies no longer seen as a danger, several separate and independent communities linked by manufacturing, farming and trade are flourishing, but the weight of responsibility still hangs heavy on the heads of those overseeing the communities. Different responses to problems characterise the styles of leadership, and that leads to some surprises.
A lot of time has been spent with Carl Grimes over the previous two books. “It’s not normal to look at me without flinching” is one of the conclusions he’s come to about who he is, and how his life may have been saved back in the day, but at the cost of everyone judging him. Kirkman insinuates this isn’t just because of his deformity, but because he’s the son of Rick Grimes. It’s understandable, but somewhat over-sold, an unusual lapse for a title where the characterisation has been so deft.
Another impressive factor of Kirkman’s writing is how he so consistently comes up with new threats, yet they’re each completely different, and he’s done that again with the Whisperers. Until now almost everyone encountered has believed in re-forming the type of society that existed before the zombies, or at least some form of it, be they villain or otherwise. The Whisperers aren’t like that, and their collective belief is as frightening as anything previously seen. By the end of the book Kirkman has hammered this home terrifyingly, and given the past there seems only one inevitable course of action to be followed in No Turning Back. As ever, Kirkman is brutally unsentimental about the cast.
This is the final volume also to be found alongside the seven preceding paperbacks in the massive third Walking Dead Compendium, and it’s also packaged in hardback along with Whispers Into Screams as The Walking Dead Book Twelve.
First and foremost a comic creator, Kirkman has seen groundbreaking success in the adaptation of his comic book titles into major franchises in all forms of content. In 2010, his Eisner award winning series, The Walking Dead, was developed into an AMC television series. It has become a worldwide phenomenon as the highest-rated basic cable drama of all time and is the #1 show on television among the coveted 18-49 demo. The property has also been extended into a blockbuster game franchise, licensing business and ongoing publishing success.
Kirkman also serves as consulting producer of The Talking Dead, the popular talk show hosted by Chris Hardwick that deep dives into each weekâs episode of both The Walking Dead and its companion series Fear the Walking Dead. Kirkman is co-creator, writer and producer of The Walking Deadâs companion series, Fear the Walking Dead.
He is also executive producer of the AMC series Robert Kirkmanâs Secret History of Comics, and the Korean pre-apocalyptic drama, Five Year. Kirkmanâs popular demonic-exorcism comic, Outcast, was adapted, produced and airs on Cinemax.
For the big screen, Kirkman will produce Invincible based on his long-running popular comic book. The project will be written, directed and produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg for Universal Pictures. Other credits include AIR featuring Norman Reedus and Academy Award nominee, Djimon Hounsou.
Additional Kirkman comics include Super Dinosaur, Battle Pope, Astounding Wolf-Man, and Thief of Thieves.
Robert is also the Chairman of Skybound Entertainment. Robert, an advocate for creator rights, co-founded Skybound alongside his longtime business and producing partner David Alpert in an effort to ensure creators are able to maintain their intellectual property rights and creative control.
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