Tuesday, 27 July 2010
‘The Walking Dead: Life Among Them’ – Robert Kirkman/ Charlie Adlard (Image Comics)
There are a few things guaranteed to perk me up after a rough couple of days. Last week was full of a heavy cold and a little one that refused to let me sleep. Just when I thought that things could only get worse... The latest ‘Walking Dead’ collection came through the door, just in time for the weekend to start! :o)
It has always been a close call between ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘The Goon’ for my favourite ongoing comic book series. While ‘The Goon’ probably edges it, ‘The Walking Dead’ can still take pride in being probably the best zombie series in any format (I’m including you in that Mr Romero...) Any day where there’s a new ‘Walking Dead’ collection to be read is a good day indeed! Would that be the case with this volume though...? ‘Life Among Them’ won’t go down as one of the stand out instalments in the series but it still has a lot going for it...
After what seems like a lifetime of wandering, our band of survivors might just have found what they’ve been looking for all this time. A walled community offers the chance to enjoy life as it was before the zombies came. Is it too good to be true though? And are the secrets behind this new community any more sinister than the issues brought inside by a group of traumatised survivors? What will give first...?
We’re twelve volumes in now and when you get this far along with a series you find that there’s really only so much that you can say about an artist who’s been there almost right from the start. That’s the position I find myself in with Charlie Adlard, an artist who has produced consistently good work (so far) on his run. I did wonder, a while ago, if the series might benefit from a new artist to freshen things up. Looking at it now though, Charlie’s art is ‘The Walking Dead’ and it wouldn’t be the same without him. What I will say though is that Adlard seems to work a lot better in the smaller panels than he does on the larger ones or the two page spreads. The more space he has the less detail seems to go into it. I guess deadlines and stuff can really work against you in situations like that.
As far as the story goes...
‘Life Among Us’ is very much a book that is all about setting things up for some pretty explosive events in future books. You don’t know what you can see coming but you just know that something big is looming on the horizon. The exciting thing is that it really could go either way. Is there something sinister behind this new community or will Rick’s group do something really stupid because they can’t trust anyone anymore? I’m into this series for the long haul anyway and it’s questions like this that have kept me reading for a few years now.
What I found though is that Kirkman perhaps draws the tension out a little bit too much. You’re waiting and waiting and waiting... but there’s no real payoff. This isn’t like when they were living in the prison where lots of little things were happening on a regular basis. This new community has a stagnant feel to it that weighs at the plot and makes things drag... I’ve still got faith that something huge will happen in the next book though and there is something to be said for the contrasts raised between the two groups in the meantime.
This approach is even more annoying in that a long running question (an intriguing one too) is brushed to one side without much fuss. Cryptic remarks from Eugene promised much but the revelation was flat to say the least. It almost felt like Eugene’s sub-plot was brushed to one side so Kirkman could concentrate on what was going on in the new community. The problem here though is that Kirkman doesn’t really give us a lot in it’s place, just the promise of something to come...
Kirkman hasn’t let me down yet so a curiously flat instalment here feels like more of a ‘blip’ than a real problem. There was enough here to keep me interested and certainly enough to have me wondering just what will happen in the next book. I’m pretty sure the payoff will be worth it.
Eight out of Ten