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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 11, 2006
Well, it took forever for Image to release "Walking Dead 5: The Best Defense." Thankfully, it was worth the wait.

Our heroes are still holed up in their prison fortress, and they're trying to make it homier by restoring electrical power. Glenn and Maggie have discovered some riot gear, which leads to the idea of siphoning gas for the generator from abandoned cars in the prison lot. However, during that operation Rick and Tyreese spot a helicopter overhead. It starts spewing smoke and goes down a couple of miles away, so Rick decides to mount a rescue mission. But Rick, Glenn, and Michonne discover that another group has beaten them to the crash site. They track them to the nearby town of Woodbury, where a leader called "The Governor" has created a stronghold with around forty souls. As Rick discovers too late, zombies can be the least of one's problems.

The characters continue to evolve nicely in this series. As with other apocalyptic stories such as "The Stand" and "Earth Abides," traditional mores are gradually being modified or replaced. For example, Carol wants marry both Rick and Lori. Woodbury is a place similar to the human stronghold in "Land of the Dead," where the familiar has become horribly warped. Speaking of George Romero, there's even a homage to the original "Dawn of the Dead," the tone of which fits with how he tends to end his zombie movies.

As usual with the zombie genre, the humans are worse than the living dead. Indeed, the Governor is one of the more terrifying psychopaths to grace the pages of a comic series. He's not a mustache-twirling, cackling villain. Instead, he's ruthless, calculating, and intelligent - an astute student of human nature who is the perfect nemesis for Rick. And his domestic situation is, shall we, say, quite dysfunctional (wait until you see his "home entertainment system.").

I was a bit disappointed with the previous collection, but Mr. Kirkman has regained his shambling stride with "The Best Defense." His goal with "The Walking Dead" was to pick up where most zombie movies end, and he has done that in spades. As usual, this edition ends with a cliffhanger that will keep you anxiously waiting for the next release. There will be a terrible reckoning between Rick and the Governor, and I'm hard-pressed to wait another six months to see it happen. Hopefully it won't be delayed like this one was. Definitely recommended.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2006
The fifth volume in Image's The Walking Dead zombie series has finally been released after a very long delay. Does the story collected within this volume worth the long wait for fans of the books? I would say with a definitive yes that it is and was worth the wait. The Best Defense brings the story back to its horrific roots while keeping enough of the emotional travails of Rick and his band of survivors.

This graphic novel collects issues 25 through 30. Kirkman starts the story back up again in what seemed like just a few days since the shocking revelation of the last collection. There's still tension amongst the survivors living inside the prison. Relationships between characters are explored but not to the point that the story heads down into soap opera level. These are individuals who have been pushed close to the breaking point and clutching at whatever hope and love available to them even if it means forming some very unorthodox relationships. But don't that give you the impression that The Best Defense once again becomes too heavily-invested in telling a story about the survivors feelings.

This collection starts up a new story-arc where the survivors have been given a new impetus to venture out of the safe confines of their prison home. I don't want to spoil it for those who still haven't had a chance to read this brand new story-arc, but let's just say that something falls out of the sky that forces Rick, Glenn and Michonne to try out new riot police armor and gear to venture out into the wild. What they find is shocking to say the least. Survivors other than themselves are found, but their similarities end at that word. Where Rick and his group have tried to create a stable and ideal place to live at, despite the differences between some of the characters, this new band of survivors have continued to exist due to the harsh, if not sadistic rule of their self-appointed survivor: The Governor.

The Governor becomes the newest danger to Rick and his group. It's difficult to fully villify this character due to his ability to keep his own group alive. His actions easily makes him out to be the major villain in this story, but he also has kept his own people alive. Could Rick have turned out the same if he was pushed to the point of no return? It's hard to say, but the difference between Rick and The Governor doesn't seem far off.

The Best Defense marks a return to what makes The Walking Dead one of the best written comics today. Robert Kirkman seem to have gotten all the angst out of his system and has found the balance between the horror and the emotional aspect of the story once again. The Best Defense collection doesn't end easily due to a major cliffhanger hanging over every reader's head, but it's a cliffhanger that will certainly get its fans eagerly awaiting for the next collection to be collated and published.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 12, 2006
This ongoing saga continues and continues to impress. Rick and company have settled in at the prison and although there have been numerous traumas both related to the walking dead and to the interpersonal dynamics, the little community seems to be in fairly good shape nowadays.

We get our first taste of another survivor group that is not too far from where Rick and company are encamped. Unfortunately, this group is larger and is run by a sociopath that goes by the name of the Govenor. His people are pretty content in letting him run things by his own rules, which includes some pretty twisted forms of entertainment, as long as they are safe behind barricades, away from the living dead.

My main gripe with these volumes is how short they are, but alas, such is the challenge here-if you want the quality we have come to expect both in the writing and the graphics, it will take time to complete them. I was lucky enough to discover this series after the first four volumes had already been produced and read them all at once. Now I, like everyone else, have to patiently wait for Kirkman and crew to produce volume six and beyond.

This series certainly carries things beyond the initial shock and terror and settles into the question of surviving and actually living under such stressful circumstances. I feel that future volumes will continue to dive even deeper into the human interactions that make this series so compelling. We have another group of the living to come to grips with and that shall be what drives this series onward and upward for a long time to come.

Simply terrific storytelling. If you are lucky enough to just be discoverng this series, I cannot recommend it any more highly. I wait with great anticipation for future volumes to be produced.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2006
I love this series, and without a moment's reconsideration I will buy the next installment, but I feel that this is easily the weakest volume. As Kirkman said in the beginning, this is a novel about humanity and its reaction to an apocalypse. Volume 4 ended with the staggering revelation that humanity, as its surviving members think of it, has in essence ended. Everyone who lives is a murderer, and when they die they will inevitably rise as an abomination. Volume 5 takes this premise to a sick excess, depicting a tribe of men who've become something worse than the zombies. This is an interesting notion, but Kirkman's execution borders on ludicrous. "The Governor" and redneck murder-ring exists as a curious mash of Heart of Darkness and Thunderdome. The sociopath ringleader seems little more than evil for evil's sake--and while I did find his television collection amusing, it strikes me as a little ridiculous... and the whole zombie family thing was played out more creatively by Kirkman two volumes earlier. The most interesting thing about the series is the interaction between human beings and the relationships that develop between them. This second camp of survivors, with the exception of the Doctor and Nurse, are entirely homogenous--existing as a single organized yet insane cabal, with internally destructive tendencies, yet unquestioning and longstanding obedience to a nut job who doesn't even murder people for particularly interesting or logical reasons. Volume 5 presents a drastic departure from the chillingly realist tone of the previous volumes.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2007
I guess you could consider me a fan of "The Walking Dead" series by Robert Kirkman.

I was introduced to it a couple of months ago, while recovering from surgery, and I immediately found myself enjoying being immersed in a world populated by zombies and unlikely (and sometimes unlucky) heroes.

Up until this volume the characters stayed consistent and true to their nature, regardless of their appeal (or lack thereof in some cases) and, though there were times when those natures seemed to conflict with their established pattern, in this volume the characters begin to step outside of their normal established boundaries to such extent that they are almost unrecognizable to the reader.

A sad fact further demonstrated in this issue's artwork, which feels as rushed as the story does and, in some cases, appear darker than the storyline.

[Possible Spoiler Warning]

As an example, an established character, in this volume, requests a relationship beyond the ordinary one that we'd commonly experience. And, while this character's suggestion for such could plausibly occur, I felt that the character in question made such a strange request to the wrong individuals.

As the writer of the series, I would've have kept the character's previous feelings and relationship in mind prior to such a strange request, as well as, keeping in mind the reality of a person's (real or imagined) psyche and their inability to lose the person that they previously had a relationship with.

As such, rather than the character approaching two unlikely individuals in the hopes that such a strange request and proposal would be accepted, that character would, in fact, realistically propose the strange request to the person that they had been having a steady relationship with, only a couple of weeks prior, in order to try and keep the person that character has grown to depend on.

Because of situations like the one previously mentioned and others similar to it, as well as, the "superhero" elements that are beginning to surface, I found myself skimming this volume rather than voraciously devouring it like the ones prior to it. And though I will continue to read this series in hope that this is not a trend that will follow in future volumes, I find myself shuddering... not in fear of the walking dead, but from the possible loss of my hard earned dollar.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Best Defense is volume five of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead graphic novel series. It is this episode that I foresee considerable problems in converting it to a television show. More on that later.

Rick Grimes' proclamation at the end of The Heart's Desire that "we are the walking dead!" was the dramatic conclusion to a lengthy speech. The story picks up a short time later. The rift in the camp between him and Tyreese remains and things inside the prison actually seem to be proceeding. I was left to wonder about any possible intent or meaning behind such a dramatic line. I won't say I was disappointed in Kirkman, only, I was expecting...something.

Be that as it may, the story picks up as the survivors start making g a real effort to set up house in the confines of the prison. Having found a generator, there is a small mission just outside the fence to the parking lot to search for gasoline. A passing helicopter just happens to start smoking and crash nearby.

I felt the plot device just a little two convenient, but not enough to distract me from the story. Rick, Michonne, and Glen go to investigate. That's where I got annoyed. With a wife who is expecting, a son, plus the fact that he's taken quite a beating recently and only has one really good hand; Rick seems to think nothing of literally just running off. He doesn't even take the time to tell his wife and son, "farewell, be back soon."

Yes, I still think the series is spectacular, and yes, I still think Kirkman is the new King. However, I think he stumbled in the plot just a bit here. That could be me speaking as a husband and parent, but Rick Grimes has been portrayed as really loving his wife and son. His regular occurrences of abandoning them to run off on some mission might be explainable as him not thinking anybody can do the job right save himself, but that doesn't fit with the character.

Anyways...that's me nitpicking. The story does take an even darker turn here when another camp of survivors is discovered. They are led by the evil bad guy we've all been waiting for. Yes, the series finally has it s Savini-esque character. The misery he inflicts on the trio of Rick, Glenn, and especially Michonne is where the televised version of this is going to have to get creative. Cable or not, some really bad stuff happens here. And what happens to Michonne is just a part of it. The gloves really come off in The Best Defense. The material in volume five definitely caries a strong `R' rating.

Once more, Kirkman gives us a bit of a cliff hanger ending. All indication are that very bad things are about to pop off in volume six. With his fearlessness when it comes to killing main characters, it is safe to expect the worst.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
When I heard that AMC was going to produce a television series based on the zombie epic "The Walking Dead," I was both concerned and delighted. A bona fide classic in undead lore, "The Walking Dead" graphic novels are brutal and surprising--not really what I would picture for a basic cable TV show (the first season is slated for 6 episodes, we'll see if it goes beyond that). But AMC has produced terrific and prestigious shows like "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad," so I'm pretty stoked to see what they do with this. Add Frank Darabont of "Shawshank Redemption" fame as the creative force behind the show, and we just might have a winner! In anticipation, I've gone back through the volumes of "The Walking Dead" to discover again the many pleasures that this series has to offer.

"Chapter Five: The Best Defense" takes things in a new direction. Tracking a downed helicopter, Rick, Glenn and Michonne head off to look for survivors. What they discover instead is another encampment--a whole town fenced off and self sufficient! Perhaps less involving in the initial trek, the chapter picks up with the introduction of the town's "Governor." When our traveling trio discover that their new friend might not be an ally, it's already too late. Most notable for its extreme violence and brutality, both Rick and Glenn suffer severely at the hands of this new madman. Most of the material back at the prison is relatively uninvolving making this a weaker entry in the series. But the danger that Rick in Michonne find themselves in has very real consequences that set up a new storyline for the future. Essential, but somewhat unpleasant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Best Defense, the 5th volume in The Walking Dead series, introduces The Governor, a man who seems poised to become a villain more dangerous and deadly than any zombie we've seen thus far. The character is intense, and more importantly, unpredictable.

When Rick, Glen and Michonne (who I still dislike immensely, although she definitely grows on me in this volume) leave the safety of the prison to check out a downed helicopter, they're brought to The Governor. What he does to each of them is unnervingly messed up. Robert Kirkman never fails to surprise and between the The Governor's form of entertainment and the punishments he doles out, I found myself in a constant state of shock.

Is it just me or is Lori becoming the most aggravating woman left on the planet. She's cold, whiny, and extremely judgmental of everyone around her. We all know Carol is sort of useless without a man in her life, but Lori's reaction to her suggestion is over-the-top harsh. When a simple no could suffice, Lori must go that next step and just about ensure Carol's next suicide attempt. Some friend.

I am so in love with this series. I find that I care about many of these characters deeply and I'm never disappointed in how the story plays out. This may not be the post-apocalyptic zombie world I'd want to live in, but I love every new installment so much more than the last.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The Walking Dead Vol. 5 "The Best Defense" continues the epic zombie saga as it collects issues 25 - 30 of the regular comic series. Volume 5 is a bit lighter than previous volumes and has a more leisurely pace to it as the survivors have been able to find safe haven in a deserted prison, safe behind layers of chain link fences. The men search the prison to find and destroy the last of the zombies in order to secure the facility for the women and children. They now think they have a place they can call home as each member stakes their claim to a different cell block to get the privacy and...hopefully...the peace they desire.

The prison even has a large generator and the only thing they need to make it run is gas...and the prison parking lot is filled with abandoned cars as Rick and Glenn go out to siphon gas while others keep watch on the biters and make a distraction. But soon Glenn & Rick have their own distraction as they spot a helicopter overhead that crashes in the nearby woods. Taking a chance to see if it was military, the pair, along with Michonne, set out to find the chopper and see if there are any survivors. This will eventually lead them to the small town of Woodbury where they find a large group of survivors who have managed to control a few blocks of the town.

Back at the prison, the rest of the group are facing their own problems as pregnant Lori receives a disturbing proposal from Carol and Dan and Andrea plan to be parents to the orphaned twin boys.

While "The Best Defense" was a bit slower paced than other volumes, it allowed Kirkman the opportunity to give his characters a breather of sorts, and to give some additional depth of personality to many of them. Kirkman uses the respite to start developing some new sub-plots that should prove very interesting down the road. That's not to say there isn't some head-chopping, intestine-devouring action, because what would The Waking Dead be without that! The art by Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn continues to be fantastic and captures this grim, gritty world in all its stark glory. I really like the development of Michonne in this latest volume as she proves herself to be one of the toughest members of the group. These are the little touches that the series needs to rise above just being about zombies which has been done to pun intended.

Reviewed by Tim Janson
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
It's too short, though....! I had just started to get back into the groove of the story when, bam! it was over, with a MAJOR cliffhanger ending.

In this fifth volume of Robert Kirkman's magnum opus, the survivors of a zombie invasion have shored up their stronghold in an abandoned penitentiary prison, and things are starting to look up. The emphasis of the first half of the book is on interpersonal relations among the handful of humans left, and just when you think, oh, where's the blood and gore? things start to go south again. This time, though, the threat comes from a rival band of hardened survivalists, led by a sadistic tyrant who is clearly a bigger menace than the all shambling cadavers that roam the outside world. It's all territory that's been travelled before by folks such as George Romero, et al, but Kirkman really does it right. Man, I wish volume 6 was coming out sooner!
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