Saturday, 1 March 2014

The Walking Dead, Volume 2: Miles Behind Us Review (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard)

AARRRGH, the zombie apocalypse continues! Rick and his miserable band of survivors leave their camp outside Atlanta and potter about the devastated countryside looking for a safe place to stay. They find an abandoned gated community that looks safe… AAAAARGGGH! ZOMBIES!!! Then they find a farm that looks safe… AARRRRGH! MORE ZOMBIES!!! Then they find a prison that looks safe… probably AAARGH! EVEN MORE ZOMBIES (we’ll find out in Volume 3)!!!!! So yeah, pretty repetitive and predictable stuff - but actually not a terrible comic for all that. 

The problem remains the lack of characterisation and the unremarkable dialogue – Robert Kirkman just isn’t much of a writer. He can come up with decent scenarios like putting the survivors into a gated community with some zombies, or the whole situation on the farm with Herschel, but he doesn’t have the ability to make you care about any of the characters. Characters die all the time and the other characters – usually a loved one like a husband – is absolutely devastated. But the reader? Completely unfazed. Oh – was that emotional for you to see that two dimensional cardboard cut-out of a “character” die? Maybe for the other “characters” but not for the audience. Oh look some new “characters” to fill up the numbers. They’ll probably die soon. Eh. 

Most of this volume is full of cheesy melodrama. Lori’s preggers – but Rick’s only just come onto the scene, weeks after she’s been with Shane. Camera close up of boring Rick’s bland pained face - duh duh duuuuuuuh! And everyone’s getting it on. Dale – the retiree with the camper van? He’s sleeping with Andrea, a young woman roughly a third his age. What?!?! There are younger men around, Andrea – look at Glenn! Why go for the guy with the most liver spots?! Speaking of Glenn, he pairs up with Maggie, the farm girl. This series should be called “The Dead and the Restless” or “Zombie Dynasty” the way these guys carry on! 

While I think Kirkman’s writing leaves a lot to be desired, he does manage to reach new heights with Herschel’s farm. Herschel’s been keeping his zombie family in the barn with the hope that a cure from somewhere will somehow bring them back to him. His conversation with Rick about their differing ways of dealing with zombies felt emotional and real. The zombie action is also pretty damn good – Kirkman manages to take these slow-moving rotting corpses and make them a viable threat to able-bodied people with weapons in some pretty decent set pieces. I think it’s just the sheer numbers that make them so terrifying. Sure you can shoot a bunch, but what happens when you run out of bullets? 

The art remains unremarkable but serviceable enough for the story. It’s black and white look suits the story which is still gloomy as hell but the relentless misery hasn’t put me off the series yet. So far, The Walking Dead is an ok title but not a masterpiece by a longshot. Neither Kirkman nor Charlie Adlard are doing anything original, either technically or conceptually regarding the genre and the format, but they’re giving us a decent zombie horror story at least. I’m still on board for the series and hope that both creators pick up their game in later volumes.

The Walking Dead Volume 2: Miles Behind Us

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