Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Walking Dead: What Comes After

What a wait!  After the last volume, Something to Fear, I was so eager for the next installment of The Walking Dead that I almost started buying individual issues.  However, I was a late arrival to the party, and since I was on Volume 16 of the trade paperbacks before I caught up, it makes sense to keep scoring these collections.  Anyway, Something to Fear was one of the most difficult reads yet, establishing Negan as perhaps the greatest threat Rick and the gang have yet to face.  Considering that they have already dealt with The Governor, that is quite a compliment.  Of course, when I speak of The Governor, I'm referring to that devilish badass who wreaked havoc in the comics, not that pansy who found time for a little rage every once-in-a-while on the TV show and spent the rest of his time sulking and screwing the mockery of Andrea in the comics that AMC's Andrea became. 
Rant over.

So, after a gut-wrenching read that killed off two of the book's most likable characters, What Comes After changed gears and slowed down enough to let us wallow in the aftermath.  We saw Rick's people losing faith in their dedicated leader, and we saw another side of Negan that makes his character incredibly complex.  He was still depicted as a violent madman and we came to learn that he is nearly as selfish and arrogant as he is vicious.  Yet we also saw that he can be quite reasonable, and at times he was almost likeable.  Not only does this give the character incredible depth, but it makes him wildly unpredictable going forward.  It may even present Rick with some conflict as he preps for war, but I wouldn't expect him to be too forgiving.

Carl also played a major role in this arc, and he remains as entertaining and puzzling as ever.  It's easy to forgive Carl for pretty much anything in this series given what he has been subjected to, and in this storyline we saw him veer from wounded son to absolute badass to scared little boy to level-headed son of the apocalypse.  His presence is a tremendous boost to The Walking Dead, for he is also wildly unpredictable, and he's probably the only good guy that still has the ability to shock us.  We're pretty sure of how everyone else is going to respond to most situations, but Carl is an enigma.  This particular arc gave him a wealth of things to do, and I think much of the material that centered on him was among the staunchest stuff in What Comes After.

There wasn't as much action this time out, but there was enough carnage to satisfy me, and even if this wasn't one of the most groundbreaking or exciting arcs to come down the pike, it was incredibly informative.  Negan continues to dominate the landscape, and Rick and crew have seldom seemed so vulnerable.  This felt like a bridge between Something to Fear and whatever it is that Kirkman has up his sleeve for the next arc, but it was a satisfying read and another stellar installment in an epic series.  You may like the show more than I do, but it suffers greatly when compared to the source material.  If you call yourself a fan of The Walking Dead and you're not reading these books, you're truly missing out.  Additionally, there is so much disparity between the two, it's not going to spoil anything for you.  For every element of the comics that AMC has embraced, there are two to three major plot points they have altered or discarded altogether.  I would encourage you to start at the beginning, but whatever you do, don't read What Comes After without reading Something to Fear first.

Now, I just have to wait for the next one . . .

Read my review of the previous installment, Something to Fear, here.

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