Friday, January 29, 2016

Walking Dead Compendium Volume Two Comic Review

by The World Weary  

Authors: Robert Kirkman 
Illustrators: Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, and Tony Moore
Publisher: Image Comics
Genre: Graphic Novel
Series: Walking Dead Compendium Volume 2

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A Larger World

A much darker book than Compendium One, The Walking Dead Compendium Two takes Rick on a harrowing journey. The book begins to become crowded with new characters and the amount of hairy situations can be a little overwhelming, but Kirkman’s fantastic storytelling is still a force to be reckoned with.

On the back cover for both the massive volumes of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, there’s a small rant about life. It reads,
       “…The world of commerce and frivolous necessity has been replaced by a world of survival and responsibility… In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living.”

There’s seemingly no shreds of civilization remaining at the beginning of this book. It begins right where Compendium One left off. The prison is overrun, the people of Woodbury and their leader have joined the ranks of the dead, and Rick and Carl are just beginning to come to terms with seeing Lori and Judy murdered before their eyes. Rick, still hurt from his wound, seems barely in any state to be taking care of Carl, and this where Kirkman really begins delves into Carl’s character. Having been too young to have really experienced much before the dead rose, Carl really only knows a life of fear and pain. This has a haunting effect on his disposition and leads to some of the most disturbing plot lines within the book.

The two meet with a small handful of familiar faces that happened to survive the onslaught at the prison, and begin trying to rebuild the sense of security they once had. The book wastes no time introducing new characters, and the tension builds steadily. Rick’s group, understandably, has a hard time trusting any new survivors they meet. The paranoia seeps off the page and into your mind. You begin to look at new survivors with the same skepticism as Rick would, which is just a natural reaction to Kirkman’s brilliant characterization.

Soon, though, it becomes apparent that Rick is cracking. An animalistic side of him is released from it’s cage and he becomes less and less the level headed leader, and more a ruthless survivor. This goes on for some time, with Rick getting worse and worse, even when the group finds some small measure of security. Rick is not a one dimensional character though, and after one of the book’s most dramatic scenes, he realizes that he can no longer just plan for the next day and has to begin building a sense of community among his group so they can all build a sustainable life. This is the meat of the book’s many, heavy themes. If you can’t trust other people, than how can you survive in a world where you are constantly hunted?

This book, believe it or not, is much darker than Compendium One. Instead of the dead and an army of psychopaths, the group begins to see smaller, but no less significant evils. The book is unafraid to delve into disturbing territory. The group faces cannibals, theives, and even insanity as they trudge wearily onwards. The things you see in this book are utterly shocking.

I have a couple small complaints with Compendium Two. The story arc doesn’t play out as well as the first book’s did. Compendium One felt more like a complete story, where this book leaves a lot of loose ends. The newer characters also don’t have a lot of time to develop with the breakneck pacing of the narrative. The pacing is somewhat understandable however, as when Rick and Co. reach their destination, there is a lot to be done, both within the storytelling and for the actual characters themselves.

Overall, The Walking Dead Compendium Two is a satisfying continuation of the greatest zombie apocalypse story ever told, and a must read for anyone who has conquered the first book. Kirkman takes his main characters to dark, horrifying places and then brilliantly develops them even more. A few minor flaws prevent this from being the monumental achievement that Compendium One was, but the pros outweigh the cons.

Score: 9.0

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