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The Walking Dead 3-4 by Robert Kirkman et al.

October 8, 2012

The Walking Dead continues with the story of the survivors – Rick, Lori (ugh), Carl, Tyreese, Hershel, Glenn (yay), Dale and Andrea (also yay), not Shane (hurrah!) – finding a place that may be safe at a fenced-in prison that they believe will protect them from the walkers.

These two volumes (titled Safety Behind Bars and The Heart’s Desire) really center on the long-term effects of living with the constant threat of death, with no way to truly escape. The prison offers them some safety, but there is still the worry that the zombies either find a weakness in the fence, or will throng around the fence and knock it down. At first, the group focuses on making the place safe from zombies and clearing out every area of the prison.

The survivors also find a group of prisoners, and this is the real test of the group as far as the theme of these two volumes go. The theme seems to be, what will you do to survive?

(SPOILERS AHO, FUN AHOY)

This is not just a question of what you will do, but how paranoid you may become and what people you may unjustly hurt. When someone is killed inside the prison, clearly by another person, the visiting group clearly turn on the prisoners – they’re the sick fucks, right? They are already condemned by society, and already have a big A across their chests – so they throw someone behind the bars that so recently meant freedom. As it turns out, it’s not who they think it is, but they have already burnt a few bridges and convinced the prisoners that it is an us vs. them situation, so it’s a standoff.

Volume 4 ends with the most memorable panel of the series: it’s Rick saying “we are the walking dead. We are the walking dead.” He recognizes the ways that the zombie influx, and the ensuing paranoia, has turned them into killing machines who will turn on each other at a moment’s notice. That is the real theme of these two volumes, a theme that will be interesting to develop.

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