Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The Walking Dead, Volume 19: March To War Review (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard)

After 19 volumes of The Walking Dead, I’ve gotten a feel for how this series works – or at least I thought I did. Usually after a couple of exciting books full of action, Robert Kirkman takes a volume to cool things off and have the characters talk about what just happened. That’s what volume 19 started out like and I thought, bah, another boring build-up book – and then the second half EXPLODED!

Rick and Jesus are assembling a force to take down Negan, recruiting fighters from Hilltop and the Kingdom without Negan knowing about the tsunami that’s brewing right under his nose. But then he inadvertently kicks things off when he goes to Rick’s place to collect tribute while Rick’s away in the Kingdom making plans. Now this war is on!

It’s tricky reviewing a series this far deep into the story. Chances are if you’re still interested in this series, you’re going to read volume 19 whether the reviews say it’s good or not, in which case you’ve already read this and know what happened, so whatever I say won’t be a spoiler. On the other hand, maybe you’re reading this review and you’ve not read this far yet and want to know if it’s still a good series, in which case I don’t want to give away plot points, especially in this volume as they’re pretty damn surprising! At any rate, I’ll err on the side of caution and keep spoilers out of this review.

The thing you should know is when you put Rick and Negan together, sparks fly (and not the romantic kind)! The tension between these two is cray-cray and Kirkman knows readers are waiting for the moment when Rick kills Negan (it couldn’t be the other way round - could it?) and tantalisingly plays with that expectation here to thrilling effect. With this opening salvo, who lives and who dies? 

And I have to say, if the Christian Jesus were half as badass as the Jesus in this book is, I’d have converted years ago! He appears and disappears from rooms without a whisper, he’s deadly without guns or knives, he moves like a ninja – he’s basically Batman without the outfit! I know Kirkman’s got a tendency to take out characters on a whim and, besides Glenn, there hasn’t been a character death – out of the dozens – in the 19 volumes that’s really stuck out, but I’d be really upset if Jesus got the axe! But you know if he did and he became zombie Jesus, someone would make the “I thought he was supposed to rise after 3 days, not 30 minutes!” line.

Also some of Kirkman’s trademark awkward dialogue makes an appearance here. Andrea repeatedly says to herself “we don’t die” referring to her and Rick, which doesn’t sound so much like dialogue as Andrea reading Kirkman’s notes after he forgot to write her lines.

Volume 19 starts slow but begins sprinting at the halfway mark and doesn’t stop until the end – it’s an absolutely blistering read! This human war – amidst the zombie apocalypse of all things – has begun and it looks like it’s gonna be the best thing to have happened to the series yet!

The Walking Dead Volume 19: March to War

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