Monday, 9 June 2014

The Walking Dead, Volume 18: What Comes After Review (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard)

Evil Fonzie - he might be a nutjob but he’s not boring!

After the last volume, I said that Negan was the most two-dimensional of bad guys but Robert Kirkman gives his character some unexpected depth in this book. After Negan and his Saviors show up to collect tribute from Rick’s group, future serial killer Carl Grimes (Rick’s 12 year old son) stows away on one of Negan’s trucks - with one of Abraham’s giant machine guns!

When he’s inevitably caught, what does Negan do? I won’t spoil it but given his entrance into this series I was expecting much darker repercussions for young Carl than what he gets, and Negan’s explanation to Rick for how he dealt with Carl makes sense in the long term given what they’re doing. 

Via Carl, we see what Negan’s compound looks like which is as depressing a place as you’d think. His stranglehold over the ordinary people living in the factory with him, along with some weird points system and warped laws, makes the whole place feel like a cult. We also find out the sad story behind Dwight - the Two Face-lookalike - and how his face became that way. 

Negan’s a great element for the plot because whenever he shows up, the scene’s immediately tense as he’s totally unpredictable. Will he snap and brain someone else a la Glenn, or will he laugh horribly and move on? Also, now Rick and co. have an urgent goal - get rid of this psycho asap! 

How to get rid of someone as seemingly all-powerful as Negan? Approach another colony for help. Rick and Jesus visit a new character, Ezekiel, who’s the leader of one of the colonies in the trade network Jesus spoke about, to join forces and topple Negan once and for all. 

This part of the book felt a bit Game of Thrones-y, not least because Ezekiel demands everyone call him king and his guards actually dress like ye olden knights for some reason, and the divided kingdom/different colonies setup reads like the many houses in Westeros banding together to defeat the Lannisters. But hey, I’m looking forward to the conflict anyway. 

18 volumes in and the series is still very readable and exciting, so full credit to Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard for sustaining it for this long. Granted there have been ebbs and flows with the quality but bringing in Negan was a great move that’s really pumped new life into the series, and it looks like a white knuckle ride from here on out with all out conflict between Rick and Negan. 

To war, then! It’s weird how the zombies almost feel like an afterthought at this point…

The Walking Dead, Volume 18: What Comes After

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