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Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Walking Dead Volume 18: What Comes After

Title:
The Walking Dead Volume 18: What Comes
After







ISBN:
9781607066873


Price:
$14.99


Publisher/Year:
Image, 2013


Artist: Charlie Adlard


Writer:
Robert Kirkman


Collects:
The Walking Dead #103-108





Rating:
4/5





I’ve
spent plenty of time talking about how The Walking Dead is better read in trade
format, as opposed to one issue per month. The way the series is usually paced,
it helps when dealing with some of the second and third string characters, who
we sometimes don’t see for months at a time when we’re reading the issues as I
come out. This book, however, is the exception to that rule. Leave it to
Kirkman to prove me wrong.





Shortly
after Glenn’s brutal, merciless murder, Rick and his camp find themselves at
the mercy of his murderer Negan, and his gang the Saviors. For perhaps the
first time since the zombie apocalypse began, Rick finds himself in a state of
submission…or does he? Either way, one person who isn’t backing down is Carl.
When Carl stows away in one of the Saviors’ vehicles, he sets himself up for a
deadly confrontation. And unlike his father, Carl isn’t afraid to confront
Negan face-to-face.





Carl
being trapped with the Saviors made almost every book in this issue pretty hard
to close. Negan had been established as such a heartless killer. And despite
his bravery, Carl is more vulnerable than ever. Kirkman and Adlard essentially
put an infant in front of an oncoming train for a few months, and made us watch
as the train came closer and closer. Interestingly enough, what Negan ends up
doing with Carl raises more questions about the leader of the Saviros than
answers.





But I
love the Negan character. He’s turned out to be just what I hoped he would: The
perfect shot in the arm for the series. Though he’s tremendously easy to hate,
in a bizarre way he’s also very likable. He’s almost like the Joker, in that he
somehow makes you chuckle at the most inappropriate times. For instance,
there’s a scene where he forces Carl to remove the bandage over the gaping hole
where his right eye once was. Negan’s reaction of astonishment and awe is
actually child-like in its own right. With a grin on his face, he refers to
Carl’s face as disgusting and cross, and actually asks if he can touch the
wound. This reaction reduces even usually tough and reserved boy to tears.
Seeing Carl’s tears, he abruptly backpedals. “Oh, damn. Look..holy sh** kid.
I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…” The idea that this madman, who just five issues
ago beat a man’s skull in with a baseball bat, is shaken by a child’s tears, is
amusing in a very dark way. Negan’s balance between juvenile and sadistic
behavior makes him difficult to read. That, of course, makes for a great
villain.





I’ve
been enjoying the new characters Kirkman and Adlard have introduced is to in
the last 15 to 20 issues. For a while there the older characters, (Rick, Carl,
Andrea, Michonne, Glenn, etc.) were the only ones I found myself caring about.
But Jesus has proved to be a nice addition to the series, and pretty bad ass
when you get right down to it. His stealth and fighting skills, combined with
his desire to earn Rick’s trust have made him very likable. There’s also
Dwight, a member of Negan’s crew who is nicely expanded on in this book. At the
very least, the mutilation of his face makes him very distinguishable from
anyone else in the series.





Then
there’s Ezekiel, who is without question one of the most memorable characters
the series has seen. Mind you, I’m saying that and he’s not even in this book
for an entire issue. He plays the role a merciful medieval king, joyfully
commanding his knights, armor and all. He also has a friggin’ tiger as a pet.
To say the least, this is different from anything Kirkman and Adlard have given
us before. In this case, different is very, very good. At minimum, we know
we’re eventually going to see somebody get mauled by a tiger! Question: If an
animal eats a zombie, does it contract the contagion? If so, I’ve got three
words for you: Zombie friggin’ tiger!





For a
while there, I was seriously concerned The Walking Dead had peaked. But it
seems the series just needed to get its second wind, which began with issue
100. The book is exciting again, which thankfully ensures it will continue to
have a nice, long life. Or…death? Undeath? You get the idea.

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