"You're probably not going to like it here, y'know" - Carol
Lori decides, in her pregnant addled way, that she must tell Rick about doing the wild thing with his former partner Shane. Naturally Rick already surmised the situation but doesn't want it confirmed. Is Kirkman getting his chick on? While other members of our survival club are coming to terms with life behind bars, they decide they do need to pick up some more heavy duty ordinance with the threat from Woodbury still hovering over them. While they do get some arms, the expedition has the effect of poking a hornet's nest as the Governor proves to have survived his encounter with Michonne.
Finally Lori has her baby, Dale joins the amputee club, and life is settling into a normal pattern with the zombie hordes ever present beyond the gate. Naturally, this being a horror outing, things go to hell in a hand basket as the Governor and his Woodbury massive attack, intent on revenge and taking the prison. They find the home team are ready to make a fight of it, and things start to escalate out of control as the Governor's sociopathic nature comes to the fore. You wanted violence, Kirkman layers it on in book four!
I'm all about ensuring the mythos of any long running series remains true to the laws laid down previously, Robert Kirkman and team are all over this concept, and with book five add a new twist to our understanding of post-apocalyptic anthropology. Dale is bitten on the calf by a zombie, leading to a hasty amputation of his lower leg in an attempt to stop him from becoming one of the undead. Surprisingly the strategy works, so yes you can survive a zombie bite if immediate surgery of the appendage removing variety is performed. While that's a cool bit of information I am left wondering how it will fit into the overall plot development, surely Kirkman is going to go somewhere with this in the future.
A while ago I opinioned that the inherent danger in Kirkman's epic journey through the wastes of zombie land was that things would get dull pretty quickly and we would all lose some interest in the plot as the same characters faced the "danger of the week". With book four Kirkman lays to rest those worries in dramatic fashion, without giving anything away, you'll need to read the book to find out the gist, some of the major characters go down in a shock development that left me breathless. Which as it turned out wasn't just figurative as my Wife can attest after having to rush me to hospital with a suspected heart attack. No I'm not about to sue Robert Kirkman and yes everything is fine with your intrepid reviewer. At the end of the book, besides two or so characters, I can honestly say I'm not sure who the hell survived if anyone else actual did! Talk about upping the ante and taking one hell of a risk, in a single story arc Kirkman has blown away characters that the Audience were grooving to. I haven't seen this sort of risk taking since Alien 3 decided to jettison everyone except Ripley! I tip my hat to the scribe here, I am sweating on book five to find out who survived and where the hell the narrative is going to go from here. Ladies and Gentlemen, Robert Kirkman has managed to blow away my expectations and had made me, if I wasn't before, a firm fan of the comics.
Guess I forgot about mentioning the makeup of Book Four right up front of the review there. We're talking a hard backed print edition unfortunately without a slip cover, pencilled in black and white, though with colour reproductions of the individual comic covers at the back. Also included, like every edition, are some drawing developments that demonstrate the time and effort that go into the creation of each panel, and the dedication to making Kirkman's script come to life. As usual in this series we get two story arcs, The Calm Before and Made to Suffer. What I haven't been pointing out is each story arc is a chapter in what promises to be the largest graphic novel ever published! Hence we're talking chapters seven and eight in Book Four. No idea of how many pages we're talking but the book is big enough to legit be used as an offensive weapon if the zombie plague does erupt in your neighbourhood.
And in case you are worried about things being slightly introverted and all character chick moments, Kirkman has your back covered. In a story development that rivals the invasion of the mall in Dawn of the Dead the Governor's forces lay siege to the prison in blood drenched mayhem. Add in suicide via zombie, and the normal dangers in the world of The Walking Dead and you have more action coming at you then ten Stallone movies.
I should also point out there's a bit of the horizontal folk dancing going down that surprised me considering the novel to date has been pretty much U.S prime and proper when it comes to the wild thing. Guess we won't be seeing the explicit in the television series anytime soon.
I was pretty pleased with Kirkman's script and am still grooving to the beat Kirkman laid down through the two story arcs. We get further insight into individual characters, a requirement of the sub-genre, and lots of blood and guts destroying the relative calm of the previous story arcs. With the demise of a stunning amount of our existing characters the whole tone and direction of the novel is going to go in completely new directions in future books.
As usual Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, and team lay down the brush stocks to fully visualise the script they have under consideration. It's strong stylish representation of mayhem that should have fans of the series high fiving the guy selling them their cokes at the local convenience store. I'm digging the approach being taken, minimalistic, kinetic, and almost surreal in places. Especially dug the development of the Governor character with the descend into madness being highlighted through the course of the chapter eight story arc.
I'm back on board The Walking Dead's dance card with Kirkman throwing surprise after surprise at me through the course of Book Four. The story is engrossing and to be honest I can't envisage an ending at this stage. Would have loved to be on board that final helicopter ride from Dawn of the Dead to see just what happened next, Kirkman is perhaps going to supply the answers.
If after a copy of the book, and who isn't, then it's going to take some work to hunt out. Your best approaches are through the speciality book and comic stores, via eBay, or hitting amazon.com and importing a copy. ScaryMinds have been sourcing the books via Amazon due to the exchange rate rocking in our direction and the quick order turn around going down recently. Whatever method you use don't arse about as I have no idea how long the books will remain in print.