Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Walking Dead 86: Review and Spoilers

Welcome, friends, for all are friends here until I see any evidence to the contrary. I hope it will be auspicious, if rather cliche, to make the inaugural post of this blog a review of one of my favorite comic books.

What I've liked about The Walking Dead is that there is no pretext of moral superiority in the main characters. Nobody's pushed as a great leader or a terrific role model. The characters make their choices, good or bad, face the fallout, and evolve. Some whom I didn't like at first grew on me. Some that I loved at first have lost standing. (What was Abraham thinking, cheating on Rosita?) And so far, the cliche, gimmicky, shock-value, temporary comic book death hasn't happened in this universe and likely never will. Dead means dead. Permanently. Even if characters come back, it's only as reanimated corpses, most of whom don't last long before taking a bullet through the head.

The cliche comic book coma also has not occurred. In too many cases, writers unsure what to do with a character will injur the character badly enough to keep him or her sidelined until their run is over or they suddenly have a story that requires the character. Then, after months of being nearly completely ignored, they open their eyes to much fanfare, and just like that, they're all better! Yippee! No, TWD is showing much more promise in that area, depicting Carl's condition a bit more realistically. He'll have a tough road ahead assuming he lives, and I'm pretty confident that this will continue to be addressed.

I like the talk Rick had with Andrea, because here it feels like in spite of all Rick has been through, he's finally stepping up to the responsibilities he always had and giving them due priority. Of course it's his job to protect the community. He took an oath to protect and serve. The collapse of civilization as we know it only temporarily diverted him from that mission, and it will be interesting to see how his renewed resolve affects the community- assuming he lives.

Overall, while this may have seemed like a "slow" issue, I found it great reading rich with character development and more logical followup to the events of "No Way Out." I look forward to seeing where TWD will go next.

The fan reaction to Carl getting shot once again made the letters page an irresistible read. The inclusion of so many critical letters and the reason for including them kicked my respect for Robert Kirkman up several notches. Writers benefit from hearing or reading what doesn't work for the readers as well as what specifically does. Sucking up to writers is just as useless as bashing them. On the other hand, and this note is directed particularly to Mr. Kirkman though it applies to other writers, while it's great to keep engaging the readers on the letters page, you don't need to defend your work.

And on that note, I was delighted to flip over and read Man and Elephant Man 1, even if it was for no other reason than that between that and TWD 86, it made for an awful lot of comic book for just $2.99. I liked the premise. I liked the gritty voice of Hip Flask, Information Agent and narrator extraordinaire. I absolutely loved the consistent pulp sci-fi feel. Here's the butt... er... but. I felt the nudity and the generally unrealistic way the female characters behaved detracted from the story. Where I come from, women who stand around in bad weather with bare midriffs get cold, and female office workers generally don't greet men at work by throwing their arms around them no matter how much they like their coworkers. But since the ending revealed a possible explanation for the women's rather ridiculous behavior, I'll consider withholding judgment on the upcoming books- particularly if they give the women sufficient clothing. I've got a daughter, and I can't always stop her from reading over my shoulder.

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