(Submitted by our Superheroic Ho-mie, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Mr. A! 🙂 xoxo)
“This volume follows our band of survivors as they set up a permanent camp inside a prison. Relationships change, characters die, and our team of survivors learn there’s something far more deadly than zombies out there…each other.”
This story picks right up where Volume 2 ended. Our weary group of humans have found an abandoned penitentiary. Well, save for a group of zombies sloshing around the front gate. After dispensing of the zombies, and a little cleanup, Rick and crew believe they have found their new home, the most spacious, and safest yet. If this sounds at all familiar, it’s reminiscent of last volume when they found the estates. Much like that story, they found other survivors who gave them food, before also encountering other zombies. In that story, those people were Tyreese, his daughter and her boyfriend, who are now members of Rick’s zombie hatin’ posse. In this story, the human survivors found are four inmates, locked safely in the cafeteria. Sure, they’re convicts, one of which was falsely accused, the other a murderer, another was a drug addict. The final member, was a tax evader. Still, they seemed very peaceful, reformed and best of all for Rick and company, they have a kitchen full of food, canned and otherwise; enough for a prison full of people. With that in mind, Rick heads to Hershel farm, to get Hershel and the remainder of his children to move into the penitentiary. Despite the chaos that ensued previously between Hershel’s group and Rick’s survivors, coupled with the fact that Hershel almost shot Rick, I think this gesture is a sign of Rick’s hopefulness and positivity in the face of this hell on Earth. For the first few issues of this volume, I fell for the false sense of security Rick and Tyreese were feeling. This is the second volume in a row, where Robert Kirkman played me for a fool. In this case, it’s a mark of great storytelling, so I am not ashamed.
Things start turning sour when Lori begins to worry and express fear about having a murderer and drug addict in their midst. Rick agrees they should be mindful of potential threats and be cautious, yet remains staunch and optimistic that this new status quo is best for everyone. Tensions are raised higher when Tyreese’s daughter and her boyfriend botch a simultaneous suicide after a night of passionate sex. They planned to shoot each other simultaneously, but Chris accidentally fired too quickly. When Tyreese discovers what occurs he kills Chris in a fit of anger. I can see both sides of this scenario, On the one hand, the two young lovers know their chances of surviving this zombie apocalypse are slim, so why not go out of this world on their terms, together, and as the Joker says; “If you gotta go, go with a smile.” It’s very Romeo and Juliet…but with zombies. I understand Tyreese’s actions too, because planned or not, Chris still killed his baby girl. I’d choke the bastard too! I can rationalize both acts from both parties, given the world they inhabit. These scenes throw an added wrinkle into the story. What was once human on zombie violence, now has taken on an element of human on human violence. If that isn’t a twist enough for you, how about the fact that Tyrese’s daughter and her boyfriend turn into zombies after death….without having being bitten!? Holy Plot Twist Batman! I seriously didn’t see that coming. It’s not explained, as to how it’s possible either. So I wonder, is the zombie gene within every human? Will this ever be answered? It better damn well be because I’m so curious. This plot point leads to a cameo from a character we haven’t seen since the first issue. If that wasn’t enough proof of the unpredictability of this book, Hershel’s two daughters are murdered and beheaded. Yes, in the midst of all this, Robert Kirkman had to throw a murder mystery into this story and at no point does this book feel overstuffed or bogged down by it. Naturally, Team Grimes, specifically Lori, lays blame on either the murder suspect or the former drug addict. Unsure, the group decides to lock them both in separate cells. When Andrea is attacked by the criminal who was convicted for tax evasion and her earlobe cut off, Rick loses it, and nearly beats the man to death. Despite protests from his fellow survivors, Rick unilaterally decides that murder will not be tolerated and death will be met with death. So Rick has him thrown outside the gates of the penitentiary, where he is attacked and killed by zombies. The previous suspects are released, but stage a mutiny holding Rick and company at gunpoint, ordering them to leave the penitentiary. Rick finally snapped and the tipping point was Hershel’s daughters being killed. He blames himself for their deaths. However, you can see the events of each volume chipping away at Rick’s calm and sanity. It continues to affect his relationship with Lori. She’s even getting more snappy with him, though part of that is self admittedly her pregnancy hormones. One thing I love about this book is that every event counts and affects the next story. Nothing is written as filler. Even if I leave this books for weeks or even months, the preceding storyline stays in the back of my mind, racing to the forefront when I pick up another volume.
Charlie Adlard returns for his second stint on the title. He definitely seems more comfortable in this world and with these characters. There seems to be more detail in his work. Last volume, I said the lack of color detracted from the setting of winter. This time though, it works for the setting. Inside and outside, the penitentiary looks spacious. There’s a dichotomy with the art on the interior of the Penitentiary. The kitchen looks plentifully, while the rest of the place looks baron and desolate. The best two zombie images are the pov shot of Rick and Tyreese peering into the gym seeing a horde of zombies on the other side of the door. The other standout is when Tyreese is attacked by the zombie horde and they all swarm on top of him. . The most gruesome images are the human vs human violence. Tyreese’s dead daughters lying beheaded was disturbing, but the details of Rick dolling out a beating on the murderer is intense. You can see the welts and bruises on his knuckles, without the aid of coloring. The best cover of this volume is the one with Rick riding his motorcycle. When in doubt, remember that riding a motorcycle always looks badass!
At this point, I’m not sure if I’m going to watch the TV show. Too many friends of mine have said it deviates too much from the book and that the storyline has disappointed as the seasons have gone on. One thing is for sure, I’m sticking with the comic book because it keeps getting better and better. I have a long way to go but I’m excited to read more, It’s no wonder this book tops the charts every time a new issue is released each month.