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Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Walking Dead Volume 4: The Heart’s Desire

Title: The Walking Dead Volume 4: The Heart’s Desire

ISBN: 9781582405308

Price: $14.99

Publisher/Year: Image, 2010

Artist: Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard

Writer: Robert Kirkman

Collects: The Walking Dead #19-24

Rating: 4/5

I’ve loved and obsessed over Kirkman’s The Walking Dead series and the previous three collected volumes have not disappointed at any level. This fourth volume collects issues 19 through 24 and is appropriately titled The Heart’s Desire. We pick up from the cliffhanger that ended the third volume (Safety Behind Bars) as Dexter gives Rick and his group a choice that bodes nothing but death either way he chooses: stay and be shot or leave and take their chances with the zombies outside the fences.

The book starts things off with a bang as Rick realizes that Dexter’s success in getting guns of his own has let loose a bigger set of problems as zombies from a locked wing of the prison was accidentally let out. What happens next as Rick’s group and Dexter’s group fight to stay alive shows a new side to Rick that surprised me a lot. It puts a new wrinkle on Rick’s rule of “you kill, you die” and will have long-reaching ramifications deeper in the story. It is also in this heart-pounding sequence that a new face is added to the mix in the form of a female survivor whose mode of survival, to say the very least, is interesting.

The rest of the book really deals less with the zombies but the emotional consequences of many of the characters’ actions from the very start of the series all the way to point of this volume. I can fully understand the disappoint many fans have with the direction the series took with all the drama and soap opera kind of twists and turns of the heart, but I think people fail to realize that Kirkman is writing about the human condition rather than just about zombies. Sure I got a bit impatient with all the emotional crisis and the meltdowns by almost everyone involved, but I can also understand why they’ve been acting the way they have. I think if Kirkman had written a bit more of zombies and death in this part of the series people wouldn’t be complaining much.

Kirkman himself has already admitted that zombies wasn’t what the story was all about, but just a part of it. With the group in relatively safety within the secured fences of the prison and some sort of artificial normalcy starting to come back to the group he needed a way to continue the conflicts that make for good drama. What else but let the pent-up emotional baggage everyone has been carrying since issue 1 to finally come to boil. Part of me didn’t fully enjoy this new arc in the series, but not enough to be disappointed with the end result. Hell, even with all the drama Kirkman still came up with one of the best fight scenes in the series a la Carpenter’s They Live and South Park’s “Cripple Fight” episode.

The Heart’s Desire was not as great as the previous three collected volumes in the series, but it still told a good story though with a bit more drama than most fans of the book were willing to take. I myself enjoyed the book enough that it wasn’t a waste and I was a bit surprised and shocked at the observation Rick finally made and shared with everyone at the end of the volume. I know that after all the emotional trials and tribulations everyone in the series went through in The Heart’s Desire and how the arc ended there’s nothing left but up for the series.

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