Once I started reading this title, there was no turning back. Into the wee hours of the night I kept going through issue after issue until my very dreams were saturated with zombies and tales of people dying in horrible ways. During this block of The Walking Dead comic books, Robert Kirkman provides both of these elements in abundance. Issues #19 through #48 cover the story arc that takes place at the prison as well as the town of Woodbury, two settings that watchers of the show are probably quite familiar with at this point.
Several things are the same as the show, but the comic version is definitely a bit more brutal with its delivery. There are also, of course, many character changes. There’s still no T-Dog, Daryl or Merle, but there is Tyrese, a character that the newest season of the show only just introduced, as well as several other side-characters both within the main group and outside it. Some characters that are dead in the show still survive (such as Dale) and others are dropping left and right.
One of the biggest changes from the book to the show is the character of the Governor. In the show there’s an attempt to make him seem at least somewhat human. He runs his town brutally, but in a way that he sees as necessary to the continued survival of its inhabitants. In the comic, there’s no pretense at any humanity within the Governor. From the moment Rick and his crew meet him, he’s a bastard. He does little more than torture them, try to kill them and think up ways to get at whatever supplies they happen to have in the prison. I found him to be quite bland in the comic as opposed to the television show, and serve as little more in the story other than an excuse to give Rick something to fight.
As far as the town of Woodbury goes, there’s not much to it in the comics. A few characters are introduced and one of them even flees back to the prison when Rick and his crew make their escape. But everyone else is just a gun slinging mercenary type or a faceless citizen. Kirkman’s portrayal of the city is one of desensitized survivors, similar in form to Rick’s group but without any sort of moral leadership.
As this block ends, tons of people die and what’s left of the group is forced to flee the prison. Rick and Carl end up on their own, and that’s where the next story arc picks up, with those two making their way on the road and trying to figure out where the rest of the survivors went.
Best be warned - if you try to read dozens of these books all at once (as I did), you may find yourself in a dark mood. As a writer, Kirkman has no problem killing the characters you like and making everything complete crap for those that live. Better to take the series in smaller doses or you too may end up dreaming of zombies for a week straight.
Next week, I venture further into uncharted territory, so the spoilers will probably be a lot heavier as far as unaired seasons of the show go. They’re changing a lot in the conversion, but there will still be that potential for things to be ruined. Tune in at your own risk.