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Review:_The Walking Dead, Compendium One_, by Robert Kirkman et. al.
Bar Harbor
I kept hearing this recommended, but had only ever read a small amount of it. When they came out with this compendium edition -- forty-eight issues worth of material for sixty dollars (and even cheaper through Amazon) -- I figured it was time to try a larger chunk. The writer has frequently stated his storytelling goal as "a zombie movie that never ends." I like long form serials, and I like (some) post-apocalypse stories, so this seemed like a workable high concept. The primary protagonist is Rick Grimes. Formerly a policeman, now concentrating on keeping his family safe. Over time, he meets up with other survivors and they band together. The cast never gets *too* large, since the mortality rate remains quite high, due to zombies and other perils. This is a story where anyone can die. I expect that, as he neared the end of this volume, the author worried that his audience wss getting too complacent, so he unleashes an impressive bloodbath. At the end of it, Rick is still alive (albeit missing an important body part), but it seems unlikely that more than a couple of his 'tribe' made it out with him. The zombies here are old-school -- slow, shambling, unintelligent. They do seem to be able to lunge out from shadows and bite fairly quickly, though, which behavior is responsible for many of the deaths we see. No cause for the plague is presented, or even much speculated on; the zombies are simply there. This book is strongly influenced by one of my favorite post-apocalypse stories, _Day of the Triffids_. Some of it is in plot details (e.g. "protagonist wakes up in hospital not realizing that the world has ended). More importantly, in both stories living men are far more of a threat than the monsters. The presence of the monsters is largely an excuse to examine the behaviors of men in the absence of structured civilization. Kirkman, however, is a lot more cynical than Wyndham. In considering my different reactions to this book and DotT, I have learned a bit more about my own tastes. I like stories about smart people overcoming difficult obstacles. Some post-apocalypse stories scratch that itch, as the setting invariably presents interesting and serious obstacles. In order to satisfy me, however, there must be the possibility of success; the plausible belief that civilization will rise again. DotT accomplishes this quite well. _The Walking Dead_ *seemed* like it was going that way, for the first half of the book. Rick's tribe was gradually growing and learning, despite all the deaths. Their living situation was slowly but steadily getting more stable, sustainable, and defensible. But then the story starts veering off into torture porn and warfare. By the end, all of Rick's progress has been blown to hell by the actions of one evil man. I don't think I want to keep reading a story that supports such a nihilist world view. Looking at descriptive blurbs for the next batch of reprints, it seems that Rick and some other survivors are going to try to make their way to Washington D.C. Well *that's* gonna be a whole lot of effort for no reward. Yeah, I think I'm done here.

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Yup. I had been reading it issue by issue and was enjoying it for a while, but it was just getting too damn depressing and the fact that he never wants the story to end means that no one will ever be safe. I took the climax to that part of the story as a jumping-off point. I still check it out once in a while at the store, and I feel that my decision was a good one.

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