28 March 2016

Review: The Walking Dead: Compendium Three by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Stefano Gaudiano

Comic trade paperback, n.pag.
Published 2015 (contents: 2012-15) 

Acquired October 2015
Read February 2016
The Walking Dead: Compendium Three

Creator, Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler, Inker: Charlie Adlard
Inker: Stefano Gaudiano
Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn
Letterer: Rus Wooton

I have sort of a hate-love relationship with The Walking Dead. I don't know if it's Stockholm Syndrome, but I found this volume pretty enjoyable. Basically, my main problem with it at this point is all the boring characters. Like, huge swathes of the cast are interchangeable nobodies that I can't muster enough enthusiasm about to even tell them apart from one another. But Robert Kirkman must realize this himself, because Compendium Three sees a bunch of them get killed, and other just fade out of the narrative, leaving mostly the interesting and distinctive characters, as well as adding some good ones.

This is the guy who's having the most fun in the postapocalypse.
from The Walking Dead #108 (art by Charlie Adlard)

Basically, my favorites were introduced in this volume. The first is Ezekiel, ruler of a community called "The Kingdom," a guy who has set himself up as a king and has a pet tiger and knights who ride around on horses. He adds a splash of color to this usually subdued and grim series, and it is amazing every second of it. Kirkman backs off on this as the volume goes, though, unfortunately, and Ezekiel becomes more "normal." Second there's Negan. Now, Negan might be an awful person (he totally is), but he's hugely entertaining because he's entertained. He seems to treat this whole postapocalyptic survival thing as a personal lark, and he finds everything funny, and I found that funny. The Governor irked me to no end, but Negan is amazing. Mostly I think it's the cursing.

The cursing, and that I love villains who are the smartest guy in the room.
from The Walking Dead #114 (art by Charlie Adlard)

Do you know who's not amazing? Rick Grimes. There's a part of this book where everyone's like, "Rick Grimes will save us!" and I like, "Why would you think that?" Whenever Rick has a plan, it's a terrible plan. Yet he's the leader, I guess because everyone knows he's the main character. I can't decide if this is Kirkman's commentary on a certain type of straight white cismale, or if Kirkman's just bad at writing Rick as a good leader.

Like, why is anyone surprised by this? Has Rick Grimes ever known what to do? Has he ever had a good plan?
from The Walking Dead #98 (art by Charlie Adlard)

The story seems to be shifting, from one of sheer survival to one about rebuilding, though the ending promises some wrinkles in that. This has potential, though so far, it's pretty un-nuanced: whenever someone disagrees with Rick or Maggie's decisions, Kirkman writes them as sniveling, evil idiots. It'd be nice to see how the new society emerging here handles disagreements between reasonable people.

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