Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The Walking Dead, Volume 5: The Best Defense Review (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard)

The Walking Dead continues to be an exercise in how much darkness the audience can endure with Robert Kirkman getting increasingly darker with each succeeding volume. 

Besides the very graphic nature of the series already featuring an ample number of decaying zombie corpses feasting on human flesh before being shot/hacked at in the head, we’ve had execution-style murders, multiple suicide attempts, amputation and decapitation, child murder, and now: repeated gang rape! … Where will Kirkman go next? Well, there’s a relatively unscathed pregnant woman in the cast – given Kirkman’s penchant for sadism, particularly toward women, I’ve got a bad feeling about what’ll happen to both mother and baby! 

Anyway, in this volume, the gang continue to clear out the prison when Glenn and Rick see a helicopter go down. They set off with Michonne to look for survivors and possible news on the outside world but discover they’re too late and another group has taken them away – but who and why? The trio soon discover a nearby fortified town of survivors and meet their leader, the cruel ‘n’ crazy Governor. 

I’m glad the series finally has a plot and a villain because the soap-opera nature of the survivors’ stories in the increasingly boring prison was getting really old fast. That the group now have enemies in the better-armed redneck survivalists is only a good thing and has definitely given the series a shot in the arm. 

And while the series has been grim as hell so far, the Governor single-handedly takes the series down to even darker territory. Ruling over his small town of hillbilly morons by providing them entertainment in the form of gladiatorial fights between “normal” people with chained zombies on the fringes of the arena, and with dozens of decapitated heads in boxes in his house in lieu of a TV, Rick and co. have stumbled into a nightmare where they find out what it would be like if Jeffrey Dahmer were leader of a town. 

Despite more gruesome amputations/decapitations and the aforementioned horror of one of the characters being gang-raped, Kirkman’s crafted a morbidly fascinating volume that raises the stakes of the series and gives the group’s story an edge it didn’t have before. Will Rick and co. make it back to their loved ones or will they perish at the brutal hands of the Governor? I don’t know but I’m definitely going to read the next volume to find out – I guess slowly introducing progressively darker elements does inure audiences to the terrible places you take them.

The Walking Dead Volume 5: The Best Defense

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