The third installment of The Walking Dead has officially hooked me in, so for that it can have that elusive five. Picking up from their discovery of the abandoned prison at the end of the second compendium, this follows the group as they move on in and try settle.
After countless clearouts of walkers, they gradually roam further in. What will be found through door number one is met with a clear answer: from past experience, it’ll be a hoard of zombies, to which they have to fire at and back up as soon as possible. The refreshing change of pace is that isn’t not zombies, just four convicts, including a murderer and tax fraud.
Safety Behind Bars extends some of the previous themes, but focuses on the foundation of a new society. A future is possible here, with bountiful supplies and land surrounding them. Hershel is rounded up to move in, a farmer being a useful commodity for forming a sustainable life. The secondary characters who have so far survived are given more focus in this book, without forcing them onto the reader.
Grief is called back into question, with members appearing almost unaffected and passive only to appear to run to their deaths in a midst of walkers. The morality of death is another key point, calling the age of question surrounding ‘a life for a life’.
But, more, it’s a power struggle. Rick is the natural leader of his group and wholly commits himself to the survival of any humans left. What he also does, however, is encroach on other people’s territory. The convicts allowed them in, only to be met with mistrust from their guests. Lori continues her insufferable streak by pretty much demanding they be locked up as they aren’t worthy to associate with them, being convicts and all. Ignoring the fact that this was their place to begin with, but hey.
It’s these dilemmas and mental struggles (although, in Lori’s case I’d refer to her general bitchy deficiency that has been prominent from the start), that makes this more interesting. As mystery deaths of females occur in the compound, it pushes people to question who is capable. Is it a convict, or a member of the group who has finally snapped?
The results are interesting, and more so, they feel real. The best zombie works are those that are compiled of what feels like a realistic reaction. And, when you look at the triggers behind certain human emotions, this descent into madness seems as real as they’d come, in graphic novel form.
On a side note, the panel of Rick telling Lori to shut the fuck up is my favourite of the series so far. About time, man.
But you can’t help but wonder how his newfound responsibilities will impact the morally correct Rick. As the closing panel clearly demonstrates a challenge to come for the group, it’s going to be an uphill struggle for the group to not only move on, but fall together as a unit under his leadership. Only time will tell.