[Some Spoilers Within]
Volume 9 of Robert Kirkman’s critically-acclaimed and award-winning comic book series continues right after the bloodbath of Volume 8’s “Made to Suffer”. The last volume ended what had been a major story-arc which had lasted for almost over two years. It changed the series in ways that would be felt for years to come (Kirkman has stated that he plans to continue writing The Walking Dead for as long as there’s more stories to tell and he sees countless more to come). This follow-up volume, aptly titled “Here We Remain”, look at the aftermath of the events in the battle for the prison.
The group led by series’ protagonist Rick Grimes have gotten smaller as Kirkman made good at his statements in the past that deaths would come to the group unexpectedly and take those fans have grown to like. While Rick Grimes still remains (so far, the story remains in his point-of-view and his telling there’s a sense that even he doesn’t seem exempt from being killed off in the future) and others of the group gradually come back with him throughout the volume the sense of sadness for those who didn’t make it after the Woodsbury attack on the prison hang over the whole story-arc.
We see how the zombie apocalypse and all the events Rick has had to go through to this point has finally affected his mental state to some degree. While he hasn’t gone completely over the deep end, the scenes with Rick and an unplugged phone found in an abandoned home hits home very hard. Here’s a man who tried to do what he thought was best not just for his family and the rest of the group he led, but also tried to keep a semblance of humanity while doing so. Doubts and regrets about his decision begin to creep in and the unplugged phone becomes a focus for Rick to air out his internal struggles with the voice in the other end. This new side to Rick definitely feel like a logical progression for the one character in the whole series who has suffered the most while at the same time trying to keep an outward face of calmness and leadership.
This volume also gives Rick’s son Carl some time on his own (on his own to a certain degree) time to show how much he also has changed his he was introduced in the first volume. While he still acts like the kid that he is there’s definite signs that he has changed to the situation the world is in now. At time in this volume Carl sounds way older than his age and that has bothered some fans and critics of the series. While in any other type of situation that would be a criticism that would be a deal-breaker for me in this case I say it actually shows just how traumatizing the world has become to even the younger set. One either gives up and live in a fantasy world inside their mind or grow up fast in order to survive. It looks like Carl has chosen the latter.
Some critics of the book has pointed out that Kirkman’s handle on dialogue is actually not that great. I wouldn’t disagree as he’s prone to too much exposition, but the fact that he still pulls in the reader with what he’s writing tells me that he’s found a way to tap into what interests the reader while keeping his vision for the book alive. With the book already in its 12 volume (should get to that 12th one right before the premiere of the first season tv series) I can’t see Kirkman changing his writing style anytime soon or if he ever will. This is the path he has chosen on how to write