The inevitable expansion of "The Walking Dead" universe continues with the next hardcover collection in the comic franchise. Having been a huge Dead fan since the first graphic novels, I have watched the enterprise turn into an outright phenomenon. I've reviewed it all from the graphic novels, to the collectibles, to AMC's television production, to the latest incarnation--the novelization by series creator Robert Kirkman and tidy horror writer Jay Bonansinga. "The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor." But nothing gives me more satisfaction than keeping up with the epic in its original format and here's the latest scoop.
Book Seven collects the following two chapters:
Volume 13: Too Far Gone (4 Stars): Now, I had heard some initial disappointment about this volume--and for those looking for general mayhem and violence, this is certainly one of the more subdued chapters thus far. I have to say that initially I agreed. With Rick and clan installed in a new community, there are dozens of new characters sharing center stage. I found this off-putting at first. But what happens in "Too Far Gone" is far more important than just another attack. Rick's growth and character development are a highlight and how he, and the others, start to acclimatize to their new surroundings has surprising emotional resonance. The characters face the crossroads where they're allowed to start feeling human again and start to face the moral repercussions of the things they've done and will have to continue to do in order to survive. I ended up really feeling connected with "Too Far Gone" in a surprising way. If you're open to seeing "The Walking Dead" as a fully rounded epic, these moments of introspection are entirely crucial!
Volume 14: No Way Out (5 Stars): "No Way Out," however, should satisfy those begging for a return to bloodlust and monster mayhem. While early sections of the story are spread among far too many characters (we need to thin the pack!), this is the chapter in which we really see Rick reclaim his leadership role making both good and bad decisions. The entire focus of the tale is taken over by a zombie horde that has discovered our little community. Things may not be as secure as our heroes had hoped and when safety is compromised--nothing will be the same again. Mutilated corpses and surprising new victims populate this episode which is an absolute game changer. But amidst all the carnage and loss, Rick has a remarkable epiphany near the end that makes one of the most powerful soliloquies the series has yet produced. Good stuff. KGHarris, 10/11.