[Some Spoilers Within]
The Walking Dead is only a couple weeks away from premiering as an AMC tv series. It is an event that legions of the comic book series’ fans have been awaiting for years and counting. The fact that I am now reviewing the tenth volume in the series’ collected trades is testament to the title’s continuing and growing popularity with readers. The fifty-four issues which precedes the six collected in this volume has seen main protagonist Rick Grimes and the group of survivors he’s leading through the zombie apocalypse go through triumphs, heartache and the inevitable purging from their perceived safety behind prison walls. This tenth collection will continue to show how Rick and those in his group who have survived have changed and sometimes not for the better.
“What We Become” is an apt title for this tenth volume. Rick has always been the de facto leader of his group even when he’s tried to give the responsibility to someone else to handle. In this volume we see how the events which led to the group escaping the destruction of their prison haven has affected not just Rick mentally but also his son Carl and some of the surviving members of the group. Dale, who has been a staunch ally of Rick’s in their journey through the zombie wasteland, has become a bitter shell of his former self as he sees each and every opportunity for him, Andrea and the twin boys to find a stable, safe haven come to naught and he sees Rick as the one to blame.
It doesn’t help Rick and his original group that the new additions which joined them in the last volume (Sgt. Abe Ford, Rosita Espinoza and Eugene Porter) have added to some of the internal tension in the group. Rick and Abe do not get on the right foot as they travel together towards a new destination. A destination provided by Eugene who says he’s been in contact with surviving elements of the U.S. government in Washington, D.C. It’s a destination that not everyone believes in, but it’s a goal nonetheless.
It’s during a side mission conducted by Rick, Carl and Abe that we see the depths Rick will go to protect his son when they’re ambushed by bandits during a routine stop to rest. We don’t see exactly what Rick does to one of the bandits who tried to go all Catholic priest-like on Carl, but we see from the reaction shots from Carl and the sounds made that it wasn’t pretty and civilized. It’s the aftermath of this event that Rick and Abe begin to bond somewhat and finally understand why they’ve done some of the awful things they have had to do since the fall of civilization.
For a volume that was all about exploring the damage the zombie apocalypse has done to those left behind it was actually pretty action-packed, but it wasn’t done so for the sake of putting action and gore on the pages. These sequences helped move the story along. It did help keep the volume from being just all about exposition (I know something detractors will continue to point out about Kirkman’s writing).
“What We Become” also bring back a past characters readers haven’t seen since the first couple issues of the series and seeing what the passing year or so since Rick last left him was very heartwrenching. This were characters fans have been requesting Kirkman to bring back. They wanted to see how they’ve been doing in their own attempt to survive. What Kirkman has delivered probably wasn’t what many were expecting and it definitely took some steel pairs to do what he did.
The volume ends with the group up one more survivor with their journey to D.C. still many days or weeks left in it. For those who have been following the series since the beginning and still do then the next volume will bring in a new story-arc which Kirkman just calls “The Hunters”.
Until then grab your rifle and machete, bar the doors and windows, hoard the food and water and definitely destroy the stairs behind you.