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.
"Volume 12: Life Among Them" gets the team back on the road to Washington D.C. But while their reason for going to D.C. always seemed like a hastily (and sloppily) drawn plot point, it soon becomes clear why it seemed so sketchy. However, the group are recruited by another community--and things might be just too good to be true. Entering a private housing sub-division, we get echoes of days gone by (when the team thought they were safe in Volume 2). This time, however, they are joining a group. Kids are playing in the streets, wives exchange recipes, cocktail parties are held, and holidays are observed. Somewhat hopeful, somewhat wary--confusion and acceptance are at war. While not a lot of actual action, we do seem to be gearing up for some major developments as suspicions fester. A nice interlude.
This was one of the most low keyed Walking Dead volumes I have read, with only a couple of minor scrapes with the undead and most of it dedicated to interaction between Rick and his group and a new group of people who find him. They are welcomed with mostly open arms into a community outside Washington, D.C. This community seems too good to be true and much like me, some of the characters are finding it hard to adjust to a world that seems safe and normal...normal being the part that feels strange to everyone.
I think what was most interesting in this particular volume was the fact that while we do not know everything about this new group, on the surface they appear to be completely on the up and up, while Rick and his group have the perspective of being the ones not to be trusted...and based on their actions, it almost seems as if Kirkman wants us to feel a little uncomfortable with Rick and the others rather than this other group. I thought it was an interesting twist and raises the question of whether or not it is impossible for things to ever go back to what they were before the apocalypse for Rick, his son, Michonne, and some of the others.
My guess is that things are about to get stirred up in this series, because as is the case with previous episodes, there is usually a calm before the storm. I just wonder if Rick is going to be the one that is going to be the cause of all the trouble this time around.
Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead: Life Among Them (Image, 2010)
As I write this, we are less than six weeks away from the premiere of the AMC adaptation of The Walking Dead, and the anticipation level is excruciating. Granted, at least half of us are already asking "are they going to screw this up as bad as CW did Legend of the Seeker?", but you know the drill. And this is the atmosphere in which I (finally!) got my hands on Life Among Them, the twelfth book in the series. (I've had it on hold from the library for about five months now.) The group, now whittled down almost to a core, has almost made it to Washington, DC, when a startling revelation changes everything... or does it? Rick and Abraham decide to plow on to Washington anyway to see if they can scavenge some supplies, and there they find out that the title of this book does not mean what they think it means, not at all. (Sorry, couldn't think of any other way to do that without a spoiler, cheesy as it is.) There's nothing I can say about The Walking Dead that I haven't already said in earlier reviews, and the simple fact is that the steadiness of the quality of the series makes it one of the great pleasures in comics today. If you're curious about the upcoming series, what better way to prepare than to read the books? ****
on March 6, 2016
I've purchased all volumes up to 22 and the TV show has just about caught up to wear I am in the novels. These books are friggen awesome. I don't read much and my buddy lent me VOL 1 after he knew I liked the show. Well, I burned through the first one and then just went on a tear buying 4 volumes at a time...the price is pretty good for what you get out of these. $9-$15 is the range I've paid per novel, I'm not sure why they aren't the same but anyways, I keep buying them none the less. The story was written before the TV Show and the show follows the story but there is some differences. The written story is more violent and graphic then the tv show but the tv show does a decent job of sticking with main ideas. I've noticed that certain plot things that happen in the book also happen in the show but there is a unique twist like a different character it happens to or something like that. Which makes reading these volumes great cuz I have some idea of where the story is going (after having watched all tv episodes) but there are still surprises. If you like the TV show and haven't read these, give it a try and you will get a whole new experience of the Walking Dead story. I'm putting this same review under every volume I've purchased (1-22) so people can see it. go buy these!
on July 4, 2016
In Volume 12, Rick Grimes and his group run across a seemingly trustworthy man named Aaron who escorts them to a large, walled-off community of suvivors called the Alexandria Safe-Zone led by a man named Douglas Monroe. It is a welcomed change for the weary survivors, but, they soon suspect that it may be too good to be true.
on April 23, 2015
If you follow the show as well as the comics, then these aren't exactly "Must-read," but they definitely take you on a parallel journey. And it's interesting to see how they match-up and differ. If you're just a fan of the comics and don't watch the show, then it's still worth the read as just a great story as the characters progress and new ones are added to the mix.
on September 15, 2011
The most recent installment of the graphic novel series, The Walking Dead: Life Among Them, might be one of the most layered and plot-heavy episodes in the story so far. I say might because you can never tell where Robert Kirkman may go next.
After the gut-wrenching and sad moments of episode eleven, Fear the Hunters, the story takes one of its menacing breaths. I say this based on past experience. Readers of this series know what I am saying. Kirkman is superb at the `calm before the storm' tactic. I cringe at what may occur in episode thirteen.
We begin with Rick and his son Carl having a post-apocalyptic version of a father-and-son talk. Carl has once more been `forced' to kill a living person and is having very human and childlike remorse. The exchange between the pair is a tiny example of foreshadowing for students of the craft of storytelling to examine. They have an interesting dialog on what differentiates Good and Evil.
Shortly after, Rick's people meet Aaron. Aaron has a place. It is safe. Come with Aaron and you can be safe, too. Rick's heard this somewhere before. He doesn't buy into the claim. And really, who can blame him. They've met such charming folks as the Governor, and of course, we can't forget the cannibals.
However, it turns out that Aaron is--or might possibly be--on the level. They eventually agree to accompany Aaron to his rumored community. It is real and the people seem genuine. What could possibly go wrong? There is food, homes, safety, and hot water.
Did I mention a little foreshadowing done at the start of the episode? You might do well to review that section once more. Rick's band of survivors are inside what seems to be a well-run, well-organized compound/neighborhood. Only, they aren't all drinking the Stepford Kool-Aid. This place is too perfect...its citizens are too nice.
In true Kirkman fashion, we are left with a cliffhanger. This episode is very heavy on humanistic behavior and character. It is light on zombies. Bravo once more to the entire team on the Walking Dead franchise--Kirkman, Adlard, Rathburn--for a wonderful example of how zombie fiction can be about "story" and have real depth. You need this episode on your shelf.
on July 12, 2016
The Walking Dead's 12th volume and story arc, "Life Among Them," is an incremental, but still thoroughly enjoyable continuation of this long-running series, collecting issues #67-72.
Picking up from the previous volume, this sees Rick and the rest of the group after committing one of their most morally questionable actions yet. The group's sense of morality has wavered, though they still hold onto knowing they did what they felt was necessary to protect each other. Soon, the group is introduced to a new community, one that is noticeably more peaceful than Woodbury was, lead by the calm Douglas Monroe. Joining this new community raises a question for the group: can things really change, can they go back to the way things were before?
One thing is for sure: the experiences that Rick and the group has gone through over the course of the series so far has changed them. Rick has come to a realization that he has had to go to dark places to survive, and the group has become more cynical than ever, having a hard time trusting others and always expecting the worst. They have adapted to the world around them. This is excellently contrasted with the new community of Alexandria, where the people act as if nothing has changed since the dead started walking. "Life Among Them" shows how the characters have developed through the series, and it is definitely a highlight, leading to some great emotional beats in this volume.
"Life Among Them" also touches on one of the key moral questions of the series in new ways: how far must we go to protect each other and survive? Characters both old and new admit to having done things seen as necessary for survival. And when the world has changed, traditional morality and ideals start to become questioned. Even once the group encounters a community just like the world before, it is not entirely unsure if ignoring the way the world has changed and going back to the old ways is for the best.
This volume explores the series' themes in new, compelling ways, while taking the time to develop what's to come. Just like much of the time spent in the prison before the introduction of the Governor, "Life Among Them" doesn't go for fast pace thrills. Instead, it introduces the new setting and characters and developing them out. However, there is still a sense that it is building towards something. Nothing major has happened yet, but the volume finishes with the expectation of more of the series' trademark thrills and high stakes to come.
The art for the volume is consistent with the rest of the series. However, it is nice to see Adlard do something new with the art. There are still large single-page spreads and disturbing displays of zombies, but you also get to see a calm, peaceful town community to contrast starkly with what has come before in the series.
The Walking Dead is still consistently good and exploring new ideas in interesting ways. It does show some signs of being in the middle of a large story, but it takes advantage of the lack of thrills to develop its characters and themes. And The Walking Dead has always been about those just a little bit more than high stakes action and thrills.
on December 10, 2013
Character-driven, plot-loaded, premise-establishing and genre-legitimizing . . . What more can be said of Kirkman's continuing masterwork as it builds, steadily and nerve-rackingly, toward perhaps its penultimate and series-wrapping story arc. The undead, the Walkers, Lurkers and rotters -- the Zombies, have never been enough of a threst to the vestiges of humanity. Living mankind has always been the most-dangerous enemies of Rick Grimes' group -- because the dead are dead, the living retain the capacity for Evil, and even walking among the dead, humanity is once again going to war.
on November 24, 2012
Any fan of the Walking Dead series will enjoy the novels, must read volumes in order as the storyline advances and there are references to previous volumes. These books differ in storyline from the cable series, yet have similar situations, so are interesting in and of themselves with or without watching the shows. Once started, you will be looking forward to the next book!