Monday, February 24, 2014

Booknote: The Walking Dead, Book 9 (Hardcover)

Kirkman, Robert, The Walking Dead, Book 9 (Hardcover). Berkeley, CA: Image Comics, 2013.  ISBN: 978-1-60706-798-6.

It has been a while since I read this series, but I was able to catch up easily from Book 8 (link to that review). This volume covers issues 97-108 of the comics series. Rick and his group are in the gated community we left them at last time. Negan's gang is still out there as a threat, and as the story cycle opens, it reminds us that the greatest threat is not so much the walkers as it is evil men let loose in a chaotic world. Now that I think about it, this is starting to become formulaic for Kirkman. We had the Governor, now we have Negan. It seems to be shaping into a pattern of one bad guy tinpot dictator after another. As I have noted before, the comic does contain a lot of soap opera drama, which I honestly do not care for, although there is a bit less of that in this arc in comparison to the previous volume. At this point, I am pretty much reading the series out of some obligation to keep up with it; I am not terribly enthusiastic about it. One thing does remain constant in Kirkman's world: no one is ever safe, and we get another death of someone who many will see as a key character.

Another small annoyance emerging in the work is in the boneheaded things the survivors do, like Rick heading out of the community towards Hilltop not quite knowing where is going. In typical macho fashion, he does not admit right away he is in essence lost, which leads to the group he is with getting caught by Negan. A pattern of making less than bright decisions seems to be emerging. You'd think by now seasoned survivors that they are supposed to exercise a bit more caution and common sense. I am not saying every decision has to be perfect, but one has to wonder at times. Rick does manage to get out of that jam (barely). Did Negan make the bigger mistake to let him go? You will have to read and find out. And there are other bad decisions, but again, I will leave you to read the series.

The pace does pick up in this arc, and there are some unexpected surprises to keep things moving and keep readers coming back. Definitely a bit better than the last installment. The volume starts slow, but it then picks up the pace. The art remains solid and gritty as always.

I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars as I ended up really liking it given some of the suspense that Kirkman builds up this time. Yet I do remain skeptical on how long the author can keep up this pace. I will probably pick up Book 10 when it becomes available, but I don't feel a big urgency about it. For me, this, as the series overall, is a book to borrow rather than buy.

1 comment:

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