After watching the ninth season of the Walking Dead TV series, I wanted to go back to the comic book to compare the storytelling. I was not sure with which volume I stopped reading so I borrowed the latest big compendium at the library. The third compendium (published in October 2015) covers volumes 17-24 (issues #97-144). According to my borrowing history at the library, I should have read until vol. 25, but I don’t remember any of it so it is good that I read all that again to refresh my memory before going on with the next volumes. I still have seven volumes to catch up on (since the latest issue [in May] is #191 and the latest compilation is vol. 31 [#181-186, released last March — although vol. 32 (#187-192) is coming in August 2019]…
This third compilation covers the Negan story arc (vol. 17-21) and the beginning of the whisperers story arc (vol. 22-24). Reading the comic after having seen the TV series provide quite a strange experience: some events happen on TV, but not in the comic and vice versa. Which is more troubling is that some events happen in both but not to the same characters and some characters are dead on the TV series but not in the comic (and vice versa). Really weird. It’s like having a peek into a parallel universe! Very confusing…
I don’t want to talk much about the story itself, to avoid spoilers, and anyway detailed synopses can be found on fan sites. The storytelling is excellent. It is fluid, easy to follow and has lots of twists, downturns and surprises. Of course, in such epic like the Walking Dead or Game of thrones, you cannot have any real “happily ever-after”. If not there wouldn’t be any story. And, when you are dealing with the end of the world as we know it, bad stuff keeps happening and you have to expect the worse case scenario.
I like Kirkman & Adlard black and white art. It is realistic and dark, detailed and fluid enough so you can clearly understand what’s happening and follow the action. It has improved considerably since the beginning. However, there is something I don’t like in the way they draw the characters’ faces (I am not sure what: is it a little static? Too much shadow?). And, of course, there is a lot of graphical violence, although less as the story progress (or is it that we notice it less?). Anyway, overall, it is a well-written and interesting story that makes for a great comic.
I have never been a big fan of zombies but what interested me into this story is its post cataclysmic aspect. It is a setting that not only has good story potential but also allows to push the human psyche to its limits and reveal our true nature. In the beginning it was a story of survival, but now it becomes more and more a story about rebuilding a society. I can’t wait to see what will happen in the next volume, what will be the differences with the TV series. From now on, I’ll go back to read the comic volume by volume, as the next big compendium (#4, covering vol. 25-32) will only be released in October 2019.
You can also read my comment on the TV series and the first eleven volumes of the comic — which I wrote in January 2011 !
The Walking Dead Compendium Three, by Robert Kirkman (story) and Charlie Adlard (art) [with inking by Stefano Gaudiano, gray tones by Cliff Rathburn and lettering by Rus Wooton]. Berkeley: Image Comics (Skybound imprint), October 2015. 1088 pages, 25.9 x 16.9 cm, $US 59.99 / $C 79.50. ISBN 978-1-63215-456-9. For mature readers (18+). See the back cover.
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