51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
Glad it's finally out; hate waiting for the next one.,
This review is from: The Walking Dead, Vol. 3: Safety Behind Bars (Paperback)
"The Walking Dead" is one of the best comic stories I've read, and I've been into the medium since the early 70s. This is the third collection of the ongoing series; the first two are "Days Gone Bye" and "Miles Behind Us." The plot is this: America has been overrun with cannibalistic zombies, and the few remaining human survivors struggle to hang on. The main protagonist is Rick Grimes, a cop who awakens out of a coma (a la "28 Days Later") to this new and horrifying state of affairs. After some close calls, he reunites with his wife and young son. He soon becomes the leader of a group trying to find sanctuary in a world gone mad.
In "Safety Behind Bars," we pick up with Rick and company as they attempt to put down roots in a maximum-security prison. Rick is certain that it will be an easily defensible home, but he hadn't reckoned on finding four living occupants - and they aren't guards. The two factions settle into an uneasy truce, but events conspire to bring about yet another cliffhanger confrontation (that's why I hate waiting for the next installment).
I enjoy this series for a number of reasons. First, it accomplishes what the creator intended: to show what happens after the typical zombie movie ends. Robert Kirkman's desire is to follow Rick for years and watch him grow and change as a person who's trapped in an extreme situation. Second, the story centers on what we really want to see in a good zombie yarn: how the humans react to and deal with a post-apocalyptic world. Finally, Rick, his family, and the others are three-dimensional characters, with strengths and weaknesses that come to light under duress and create the series' bread-and-butter conflicts. The excellent writing accomplishes these goals in an original and compelling way, and has kept me hooked on "The Walking Dead." In fact, when I saw this edition at a Stockholm sci-fi store, I bought it there instead of waiting until I got home (even though it cost more and I had to carry it around in my pack). That's how much I like it.
Some reviewers have wished for the return of the original artist who did the "Days Gone Bye" story arc. I initially wanted that as well after comparing it to the penciling in "Miles Behind Us." But the current illustrator has hit his stride with "Safety Behind Bars," and I've come to appreciate his darker and rougher style (be advised that the series is in black and white, but it really fits the tale's grim nature). I have only two issues with this format. The first is waiting six months for the next one. Second, it would be cool if the letters pages from the comics were reprinted. I guess these are the downsides of buying the collection vs. the actual series.
Even with the zombie genre at the point of over-saturation, "The Walking Dead" stands out as an excellent character study that transcends its subject matter. I recommend reading the first two collections before diving into this one. Bravo to Mr. Kirkman for creating a fascinating new world.