Justin's Reviews > The Walking Dead, Vol. 06: This Sorrowful Life

The Walking Dead, Vol. 06 by Robert Kirkman
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Mar 09, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: graphic-novels, horror, zombies
Read in March, 2012

I’m starting to realize that Walking Dead is one of those series that boasts a large number of fans that are oblivious to or are willing to look past its flaws. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it is what it is. The universal acclaim that these books get seems to be at odds with some of the problems it has, especially by this point in the series. This volume, simply put, isn’t put together very well, and isn’t much fun to read. Spoilers ahead.

The issues in this collection continue to chronicle the ordeals of Rick, Michonne, and Glenn at Woodbury, including their harrowing escape and return to the prison. The centerpiece of the volume is a long, graphic section of torture porn, as Michonne enacts her foreshadowed revenge on the Governor for raping and brutalizing her in the preceding days. They make it out of the city with the help of a few defectors, but find the prison overrun by zombies when they return. Fortunately, most of the people at the prison are safely holed up (waiting for Rick to get back before doing anything about it, I guess?), and they get their sanctuary secured and cleaned up again in short order. However, an incident with one of the Woodbury defectors stands as a stark reminder that they now have living, breathing potential enemies right on their doorstep.

I read this volume faster than I usually do, but not because I was glued to the action. I was waiting for something profound or even interesting to happen, and it never really did. The extended torture vignette couldn’t end fast enough; it added exactly nothing to the story, since it didn’t seem to affect Michonne’s character in any way other than Rick noticing the crazy mannerisms she’s had since she was introduced. Also, I guess it’s perfectly fine to illustrate rape and torture in graphic detail, rather than simply implying it like before, if the victim is a man who deserves it. It’s a little weird to complain about violence in a zombie comic, I admit, but the whole thing seemed gratuitous. Anyway, we’re introduced to a few new characters, and in the space of a few pages, one dies, one is immediately slotted into an archetypical role (the person with vague medical knowledge that must find the courage to become The Group's Doctor), and one is inexplicably revealed as a traitor and even more inexplicably murdered by Rick. Hmm.

What story there was made very little sense, and really only served as connecting the plot point from the last volume (the existence of another, grittier group of survivors) with whatever the heroes are going to do next. It’s not a bad collection, really, but I wouldn’t really classify it as good, either. It doesn’t really add anything, and could have done without a lot of the supporting details (like, for instance, the ridiculous gladiator fight scenario). The AMC series seems to be getting a lot of flack lately for aimless writing and confusing character decisions, but that’s seems to be the hallmark of this volume.

Honestly, I think I would have liked it better if I had read it as individual issues, with a cooldown period between each. There are a lot of powerful, visceral moments in the volume that leave a lasting impression if taken on their own, but they come off as weak and even silly when lumped together as a story arc. Now that we’re past the long introduction of the Woodbury group, though, I’m interested to see what happens next.

In short, this isn’t a terrible book, but it’s easily the weakest of the series thus far.
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