SPOILER ALERT: I do my best to write spoiler free reviews, but this is an interesting situation. The next season of the television series is loosely based off The Walking Dead TPB Volume 17. The show runners don’t always treat events in the exact same manner as the graphic novel and I will try my best not to spoil the book, so it may even be a moot point, but be warned. Spoilers (maybe).
In Volumes 14, 15, and 16 of The Walking Dead TPB, a horde of walkers breach the walls of Alexandria and threaten to overrun the gated community. Alexandria’s residents face down the horde and save their community. In the commotion, Carl is shot in the face and goes into a coma. The residents become restless and start questioning Rick’s leadership abilities. Rick quells the mutiny and the community begins the process of rebuilding.
While scouting for supplies, Alexandrians meet a man named Paul Monroe who claims he is from a nearby band of more than 200 people, called the Hilltop Colony. Rick and the others go to scout out Hilltop, and find a walled community that appears even safer than Alexandria. The Hilltop folks warn Rick about a dangerous band of men, known as the Saviors and led by man called Negan, who take half of Hilltop’s food and supplies in exchange for “protection” from walkers and rogue agents.
In The Walking Dead TPB Volume 17, Rick and crew encounter a group of the Saviors, who demand tribute from Alexandria. Rick refuses and the crew lays waste to all but one of the Saviors, sending him back to Negan with the message Alexandria will not bow. Mistake.
Turns out, the Saviors are a much larger group than Rick anticipated, and their leader makes the Governor look like a school yard bully by comparison. When Negan catches up to Rick, he mercilessly beats one of Rick’s group to death with a barbed wire wrapped baseball bat while Rick and company are forced to watch helplessly. (This is where season 6 of the television show left viewers hanging.)
Robert Kirkman spent the last three volumes, roughly 15 issues, setting up this punch to the gut. Just when it seems like Rick and company are making some headway, getting to a comfortable place where they can relax and pretend like the world is an okay place again, the hammer drops. All feelings of hope, optimism, and celebration that were left over from the recent victory over the zombie horde have disappeared. Once again, we’re shown that while the walkers are dangerous, the real monsters are still breathing.
The Walking Dead television show picks back up on October 23rd. If you’re looking to get your fix in the mean time, The Walking Dead graphic novels are available through Volume 25. Go back to Volume 1 and start the series all over again, or pick up Volumes 17 and 18 to follow along with the current storyline.
The Walking Dead TPB Volume 17: Something To Fear, Image Comics, released November 21, 2012, written by Robert Kirkman, pencils and ink Charlie Adler, gray tones Cliff Rathburn, letters by Russ Wooton, $11.99
Review by Brendan Allen.