Review: The Walking Dead Volume 10 (by Robert Kirkman)


[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.

A Quickie With Lisa Marie: Excitable Boy (performed by Warren Zevon)


Seeing as how we’re coming up on Halloween (yay!), how about a little Warren Zevon?  I love Werewolves of London but I think everyone on the planet has already heard that song a few thousands times.  So, how about Excitable Boy?

By the way, the video today features scenes from Mary Harron’s American Psycho and was originally posted to Youtube by a person who goes by the name of TonyFuckingMagnum.

Well, he went down to dinner in his Sunday best
Excitable boy, they all said
And he rubbed the pot roast all over his chest
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he’s just an excitable boy

He took in the four a.m. show at the Clark
Excitable boy, they all said
And he bit the usherette’s leg in the dark
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he’s just an excitable boy

He took little Susie to the Junior Prom
Excitable boy, they all said
and he raped her and killed her, then he took her home
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he’s just an excitable boy
After ten long years they let him out of the Home
Excitable boy, they all said
And he dug up her grave and built a cage with her bones
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he’s just an excitable boy

A Quickie From Lisa Marie: Nowhere Boy (Directed by Sam Taylor-Wood)


At first glance, Sam Taylor-Wood’s Nowhere Man sounds just a little bit too cutesy.  The movie, which covers the youth of John Lennon, starts with the death of John’s Uncle George, covers both his attempts to reconcile with his mother Julia (portrayed here as being bipolar) and his troubles relationship with the aunt who actually raised him, details how John came to form his own band (The Quarrymen) and first met Paul McCartney and George Harrison, and ends with John preparing to leave for Germany.  Yet the movie works surprisingly well and, by the end, is actually quite touching regardless of whether you idolize John Lennon or if you think Imagine is one of the most overrated songs of all time.  By refusing to indulge in any easy sentimentality about either John Lennon or the iconic figure he would eventually become (the word “Beatles” is never uttered at any point in the film), Taylor-Wood crafts a touching coming-of-age story about an alienated teenager trying to find peace with his dysfunctional existence.  The fact that the teen is going to grow up to be the John Lennon is secondary to the plot.

The film works mostly because of the cast.  The young John Lennon is played by Aaron Johnson who, earlier this year, was the lead in Kick-Ass.  I have to admit that I didn’t care much for Johnson in Kick-Ass.  His performance seemed generic and bland and he was overshadowed by Nicolas Cage, Chloe Grace Moretz, Mark Strong, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and just about everyone else in the movie.  Here, however, Johnson gives a strong, sympathetic performance as a character who often comes across as being neither.  He both manages to capture the young Lennon’s sensitivity as well as his anger and cocky arrogance. 

However, the movie truly belongs to the two actresses playing Lennon’s aunt and mother, Kristen Scott Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff.  Scott Thomas has an especially difficult job as her character is far less flamboyant and, at first sight, a lot less interesting as Duff’s.  However, as the film progresses, Scott Thomas starts to subtly reveal the dry humor that lies underneath her character’s serious expression.  As for Duff, she dominates the film as surely as Julia dominated her son’s life.  Duff doesn’t resort to any of the easy (and insulting) clichés that are usually used to represent bipolar disorder on film.  Instead, she captures both the exhilarating high of being manic along with the constant fear of the depressive episode that we always know is destined to follow.  It’s a spot-on performance that elevates this film above the standard coming-of-age story.

Wisely, neither the director nor her actors ever get caught up in the fact that their film is about the John Lennon.  There’s no portentous foreshadowing or awkwardly staged moments designed to specifically make you go, “Hey, that’s John Lennon!”  Even the first time that Lennon meets Paul McCartney and, later, George Harrison is handled in a casual, off-hand manner.  Taylor-Wood has enough faith in her audience to believe that we’ll be able to understand the importance of John being introduced to a younger guitar player named Paul without bashing us over the head with the fact that this is the Paul McCartney.  As such, while you’re always aware that this is a movie about John Lennon, you can also see the movie as simply being the story of an alienated teenager who finds salvation through music.