And thus concludes my journeys into the mind of Robert Kirkman, volumes 9-16. It has been a foul year. SPOILERS AHOY:
Vol. 9 — Here We Remain
I’m glad I took time off from reading this series. That last volume was brutal.
Vol. 9 of The Walking Dead handles the events of Vol. 8 the only way it could (and still keep readers from wanting to kill themselves from sadness). The first half is relatively quiet, with Carl and Rick moving slowly down the road, ambling to nowhere basically, and dealing with their grief over the loss of Lori and baby Judy, as well as their other friends. On top of being physically ill, Rick seems to be losing his mind, hallucinating and just generally feeling horrible about himself. Carl has a really neat — and sad — moment where he realizes he’s not a kid anymore, and he could survive without his dad if he had to. Thinking about kids living in this world Kirkman has created is just the worst.
Vol. 10 — What We Become
Aaaaand I’m already starting to get fatigue again with this series. I mean, these guys just can’t catch a break, and the minute you think Kirkman can’t pull anything worse or more disgusting or more horrifying out of his sleeve, he does.
What We Become follows Rick and Co. on the first leg of their journey to Washington D.C., as things once again start to fall apart. Rick and Carl are still dealing with the trauma of having lost Lori and baby Judy. Rick is still hallucinating conversations with dead Lori, and Carl exhibits some worrying trends. For the first time, he talks about when he murdered Shane back at the end of Vol. 1 in order to save his father, and despite it being kind of a horrifying moment, it’s also kind of sweet because he and Rick totally bond over being monstrous human beings together. But even if Carl and Rick are growing closer, other stuff is going to shit. Their new companion, Abraham, is also turning into a monster, almost murdering Rick because of his fierce temper and unending rage. Maggie tries to kill herself, Sophia is pretending her dead mother never existed, and Dale is fed up with constantly traveling around and wants to find a place to stay permanently, despite the risks.
Vol. 11 — Fear the Hunters
I reaaaalllly wish I had read this before I started my Harry Potter re-read, as the thought of interrupting Deathly Hallows, which despite being the saddest and most sober of the HP books, is still quite happy, for this, was not a pleasant or desirable thought. And reading it after seems even more unpleasant. Yet, they were due back at the library, who knows how long it would take me to get them again, and I didn’t want to add any more money to my already considerably hefty ongoing library fines. I tell you what, the Pima County Library must LOVE me. Anyway, I powered through this one and Vol. 12 just so I could be done with them, and I know for a fact all of those factors mentioned above affected my enjoyment of the story.
Rick and company are still on the move to Washington, having hooked up with a new group of survivors. This means that in addition to fearing for their lives from without, they once again have to worry about learning enough about a group of people to trust them. And of course, my least favorite part of this series, everyone inside their remaining group (Rick, Carl, Andrea, Dale, the twins, Sophia, Glenn, and Maggie) are falling to shit as well.
Vol. 12 — Life Among Them
On the one hand, it’s a very good thing Rick and Co. have found a new seemingly safe place they can stay, possibly permanently. On the other, it feels like just another way that Kirkman will give us false sense of security, only then to pull it from under us with something that’s somehow worse than anything that’s come before. The characters also seem to feel the same way.
It’s been a couple of weeks since the incident with the cannibals, and the survivors are out foraging for food when they are approached by a man claiming he lives in a community of 30+ people, and they are invited to join them. They are understandably skeptical, even though he appears to be telling the truth. And even when they reach the community and see for their own eyes that it seems to be true, they still see danger and warning signs everywhere. Having lived out in the wilds for 14 plus months, they can’t seem to bring themselves to admit nothing untoward might be going on. To say they are paranoid might be an understatement.
Vol. 13 — Too Far Gone
While this volume had some interesting reversals, I’m still finding that my enjoyment of this series has waned.
All through Vol. 12 there was a pervasive sense of creep and horror hiding in the idyllic community Rick & Co. found themselves sheltering in. I kept expecting some horrible secret to pop out of existence, and for the leader, Douglas, to turn out to be some wacko perv-job or something. But the creep turns out to be mostly in my head (and Rick’s and the other survivors’) as the people in the community turn out to be sheltered and unprepared, but relatively normal for all that.
Vol. 14 — No Way Out
What the fuck, guys. Like, what the fuck seriously. How is the brutality of this series still surprising to me? If it wasn’t so horrifying I would probably be able to appreciate how Kirkman used the past two and a half volumes to lull us into a false sense of security — despite multiple characters literally stating out loud that nothing that good could last — only to shatter that security in the first 80% of this volume.
But he also managed in this volume to renew my faith in the series by finally giving me what I’ve been asking for for thirteen fucking volumes: hope. This damn shit is too bleak, and if it hadn’t ended the way it did, I might have just up and quit on the series, but it did end that way, with Rick finally realizing that’s it’s not the dead that are the problem, but the living.
Vol. 15 — We Find Ourselves
Another day, another dollar? I guess? Except who gives a shit about money when there are zombies?
They’ve finished off the zombies that invaded the Safe-Zone, Carl is in a coma, some of the Safe-Zoners resent Rick and his group for changing things, people are dead all over the place, stupid Abraham cheated on Rosita, and Andrea totally is jonesing for Rick. And Rick? He’s convinced that the reason all their past tempts at survival failed so badly is because he was only concerned with the safety of his family, and not with the community. He says now he realizes they can accomplish so much with a larger group of people, and he hopes to still be in the Safe-Zone when Carl is thirty.
Vol. 16 — A Larger World
Okay, so I think I’m done with this series. Probably forever, but definitely for a very long time. Honestly, I’m just bored with it, and I’m kind of surprised I held out this long.
The type of story Kirkman seems to be interested in telling is not one I am any longer interested in reading. The endless death and horror, and the repetitive cycle of their lives exhausts me, and I get nothing out of it personally, even if I can see how others might.
This one I guess is an okay one to go out on. Rick and company have quelled the rebellion in the last one, and in this one, find an even LARGER group of survivors. Maybe if someone tells me later on that this meant things actually changed for the survivors, I will come back, but for now I’m going to go out on this one so I can pretend they all live happily ever after and the zombies will go away and Rick and Andrea will make out and raise Carl and la de da de da The End.
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3 stars for all eight issues, on average.