[Some Spoilers Within]
Tonight marks the premiere of Robert Kirkman’s widely-acclaimed and fan favorite zombie comic book series aptly titled The Walking Dead. The series has preeminent filmmaker Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption, The Mist) and genre-veteran producer Gale Anne Hurd producing the adaptation for AMC. So, it’s with the 12th volume in the collected series that I welcome the tv series.
“Life Among Them” sees Rick and his group of survivors (now less three of its original members and picking up a new one along the way in the previous volume) finally finding a semblance of a safe haven after the travails they endured at the hands of “The Hunters”. It has been a long and deadly journey for Rick and his people. The fact that the promise of a working government they had been moving towards was actually a lie from one of the new members wasn’t too much of a surprise to loyal readers of the comic. This is a group which has had its hopes dashed bloodily over and over that any good news they see as too good to be true.
This goes for the sudden arrival of a scout party from a walled-off community which promises the group safe haven with no questions asked. Rick, who has gone through such promises from a previous safe community, sees this offer with some suspicion and this brings forth another aspect of Rick’s personality which has changed from issue 1 to this volume. He has become paranoid and mistrustful of those not in his group and offers of safety and a respite from the grueling travels of the road he sees with suspicions eyes. But they accept this invitation and find out that this safe haven couldn’t be any different from Woodbury.
What they see inside the fortified walls could pass off as a slice of their former lives. A suburban-like community where people safely walk the streets at night and their kids play ball in the yards and streets without hints of danger. Leading this community is a former Congressman who had taken the stole of leadership and keep the haven running smoothly. All he asks of Rick and his people is that they contribute in some way to help continue the community’s expansion in some way. Rick returns to what he did before the fall of civilization and patrols the streets as the town’s constable. Michonne thinks it is now safe for her to put away her sword. Even Andrea has caught the eyes of more than one of the town’s many single men. Even Abraham has pitched in to become part of the work detail whose job is to go out and find building supplies to help strengthen and expand the walls.
All seems to be working as it should with everyone safe. The first sign that not all is what it seems is the mention of a name. A person who helped organized the building of the walls, but who seems to have become “HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED” to everyone Rick and his group meets inside the haven. The town’s leader also seems to hold secrets of his own. Rick senses the dark undercurrents permeating the town’s vibe and in a sequence right at the end of the volume we see just how damaged Rick has become since we first meet him in issue 1.
While the volume doesn’t go heavy on the zombie action it does a great job in setting up what could be another major story-arc coming in the subsequent volumes. Will Rick and his people learn the secrets the town has been keeping from them? Will Rick become what he despises the most in trying to keep his son and his group safe from the dangers of the outside and what he perceives as dangers inside as well? This volume is almost the calm before another shitstorm about to hit the group and this time will the butcher’s bill be as large as the one which was tallied in the end of the 8th volume.