The Walking Dead: compendium 2
Medium: comic
Year: 2009
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Charlie Adlard
Country: USA
Keywords: Walking Dead
Format: Issues 49-96, 1000-ish pages
Website category: Comics
Review date: 8 August 2023
Walking Dead
I'm halfway through. 96 of 193 issues and two of four compendiums. It's still good stuff, although it's capable of being a bit uncomfortable. Rick Grimes is pretty far gone. He's the best available leader when he's got his head together, but he's capable of falling into self-hating apathy, going over the top if he thinks you're a threat and/or being a violent paranoid nutter who'd shoot a gift horse in the mouth. Also, he has occasional conversations with a dead person who's only alive in his imagination.
"There's nothing left in me, not anymore. I feel like I died a long time ago."
Nonetheless, where he goes, the survivors of his group tend to end up following. There are times here when you'll be wondering if Rick's extreme actions are going to ruin things for everyone. And I don't mean just once. That said, though, his frightening decisiveness is absolutely what you need in this zombie apocalypse world. He's the reason why his friends are still alive. (Well, some of them. A few of them. A non-trivial percentage. This is a series with a body count.)
Some things never change. Sex can still ruin everything and turn friends into enemies. Tough guys being macho is still a recipe for stupidity, especially when two of them meet. There is no limit to the world's supply of morons.
There are also, though, some new things to think about. What would it be like to raise a child in this world? Especially a boy. It's the opposite of a healthy environment. There are children here who don't go scary, cold or psychotic, but the odds appear to be about fifty-fifty. Also, don't believe for a moment that children are exempt from the rule that anyone can die.
The sexual content is far milder than in the first compendium. The only place where anyone tries to weaponise it is when someone seizes Rick's young son and makes a suicidally ill-judged threat. It doesn't end well for him.
The series can also be lighter and nicer, though. You'll like these people and want them to thrive. Sometimes we see the diplomatic small-town cop that Rick used to be, while of course he couldn't be a more devoted father. There can even be laughs. I was amused by the theological discussion when they find a priest and I howled at the black comedy of the cannibals' big surprise. (Horror will follow that, obviously, but you'd expect nothing less.)
It's still strong stuff. It's still about people being pushed to the limit (and often beyond) and showing us how brave, kind, horrible, clever and stupid they can be. The zombies are lethal, but only the living can be evil. Some of our survivors can't handle civilisation, even though it's their only long-term hope for the future. They get twitchy and afraid of becoming weak, or else they're convinced that finding a community of good people is only a temporary salve and that it won't last. The reader knows how they feel.
"Just to make sure you weren't dangerous or anything."
(Reader falls about laughing. This guy thinks our heroes aren't dangerous?)