Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Walking Dead Volume 18: What Comes After (2013)

I've failed to enjoy The Walking Dead for so long, I decided to go back and read my previous reviews to determine when exactly the worm turned. I didn't cover Volume 11: Fear the Hunters in January of 2010, probably because I was bogged down with other things, but I described it as "incredible" while I moaned about the plodding, repetitive Volume 12: Life Among Them. It occurs to me that across three years and seven volumes, the cast is still basically in the same exact place, both in location and emotion. There are a few less people still with us (I predicted the wrong dead old timer of 17: Something To Fear, but the event itself played out as expected with a different neck in the noose,) although everyone is a shadow of their former self anyway, so what does that matter? I think 14: No Way Out was where the troubles really began, since it was built up at a time of maximum cross-media Walking Dead hypeage, but ended up circling right back to where it started from. As the band mourned deaths of folks most cared fuck all about in 15: We Find Ourselves, I found myself talking as much or more about the TV series, as it seemed to take two mediums running stories concurrently to give me enough material to write about for one review. The third season of the show managed to outshine the current books, if not the story's source material. It went out with more of a whimper than a bang, but Season 3's heights were high, and the trailer for Season 4 has me hyped for more Tyrese (who I've missed terribly in the comics) being joined by fellow The Wire alumni D'Angelo Barksdale. Now there's a show I need to get back to and finish.

Where was I? Oh yeah-- I thought all those menacing faceless figures on covers to comics collected in the previous volume, Something To Fear, meant that we'd get some cross-pollination; having Merle and Daryl Dixon turn up in a vicious rival group. The tease didn't amount to much-- a new villain named Negan who's kind of like TV Shane taken to the nth degree. Kirkman's also sworn to never use Daryl in the comics, but we'll see how long that oath lasts when the sales dip. This volume dealt with learning the vulnerabilities in Negan's group, and becoming better acquainted with the nutbar himself. This is done through a difficult to swallow contrivance, at a time when more and more ridiculously fantastic Mad Max elements are being introduced. The book has broken away from any semblance of reality, and gotten campy to the point where its increasingly limited appeal is skewing toward schadenfreude. "All Out War" is supposed to be the next big thing, and it had better be damned good, because otherwise it'll be really hard to rationalize continued purchase of a book doing donuts for half a decade.

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