The Walking Dead – Volume 11 (Review)

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‘…Hope just got shot in the face’ -Chris Hardwick, on The Talking Dead

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Thanks for the block quote,  The Talking Dead, AKA The Walking Dead after-show! *

Here’s a very extended, very uncensored version of a review of The Walking Dead, Volume 11, I posted on Amazon last year. There’s really nothing I can say right now about the mid-season premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead that hasn’t already been said, and the graphic novels are much, much too epic to review as a whole, so I wanted to write about one of my favorite volumes. You can read my thoughts below this post’s media, which happens to be the first of Greg Nicotero’s killer TWD webisode series. If you haven’t seen it yet, and have an extra 15-20 minutes free, I highly recommend it.

Soooo, you thought the whole Governor/Prison volumes were as dark and disturbing as things could get? So did I , but I found out that this was, in fact, a case of fucking WRONG.**

A bit of background- my husband gave me Volume 1 for Christmas several years ago. I liked and admired it, but at the time I was already a little off-kilter mood-wise and could get depressed all on my own, no assistance from TWD needed. Then, years later when the series hit AMC, I watched the pilot and every episode aired since then as of this writing. I wanted the story to continue, and I sure as hell couldn’t wait a goddamned year, so I asked for Book Two for a b-day gift (during the hiatus between season one and two on the series) and read it all in one greedy sitting. By the time I could afford Book 3, I was hooked on the story (like Walkers are hooked on… yeah). Than came every book after that, since they were all under $20.00 on Amazon, and even paid extra for Express shipping;  I didn’t want to wait another day.

So, even if you’re hooked as I am, I feel the need to warn you that this volume (which contains several pay-offs so satisfying that any one of them alone would have been enough) is equally as brutal as the Governor story arc and where it leads. It WILL wrap you up in the story, but you’ll be so busy turning pages you’re not going to see the gut-punches coming. Ever read a book or graphic novel in privacy that had you exclaiming and cursing out loud? Last time that happened was when I discovered the graphic novels Crossed and Crossed Family Values***, but I was less enthusiastic about those sick puppies (just mostly muttering or hoarsely whispering a horrified, shocked series of four-letter words and variations thereof). I was giving the characters in this TWD volume (the whole series, but this and one other in particular) advice as if they could HEAR me, the way I do watching a really exceptional movie or series, such as Breaking Bad. It’ll make you pretty sad, shocked, and depressed; in fact I recommend reading it in the daytime. Preferably a sunny day.  This… gets… ugly.

I still remember how an event or bit of dialogue would out of the blue (not in a sloppy way, you just do NOT see it coming) making my jaw drop and my heart break many times. Your throat will almost squeeze shut in sympathy for the characters and every fresh Hell that they have to deal with;  for the impossibly hard decisions they have to make, simply to continue to live and breathe.

Does the above paragraph sound like I’m advising you not to read it? Well, I’m not, in fact I recommend it (just don’t read volumes out of order unless you want to be confused and ‘spoiled’ so much it’s not worth it).   It’s actively frightening, and there are several deaths/kills that are REAL bombshells. I have three series of  horror/fantasy graphic novels that are (so far) my favorites, and this is one of them.

When I wrote the initial review on Amazon, I gave it 5 stars out of 5, and here’s how I broke it down.

  • One star for total inability (except in one case, no big deal) to second-guess the story and how a character will react.
  • Next star is for the writers, who make the situation believable– you could actually see things playing out the way they do if YOU survived an apocalypse and made a couple errors in judgement.
  • Another for the amazing artwork.
  •  Another for the creators “going there”.  When you thought there was no way of things taking place the way you were worried they were, the creators going there.  Really going there.This isn’t done for simply for shock value or writing characters into a corner then regretting it later…they earn it every time, trust me.
  • Speaking of earning things, the 5th out of  the 5 stars is for the incredible payoffs. Some of them are ones you’ve been waiting for for years. If you were watching the events take place in a movie, and the place was filled with TWD fans, there’s definitely a couple ass-kicking perfect pay-offs that would have the whole crowd roaring and applauding.

Very entertaining …just be sure to buckle up. By the way, Volume 12 ain’t no picnic for our characters either, but this is one I’ll remember for a long, long time. The amount of re-reads I do for an exceptional comic/graphic novel? I’d put that average at five. For Volume 11, one re-read –almost entirely for the purpose of going back to see if some brutal twist and/or horrifying event had actually gone down the way iI thought it did– was all I needed. I didn’t pick this volume back up for a re-read for several months.  That’s how intense things get.

Remember, you won’t be seeing it in a movie theater packed with fellow cheerful and excited fellow fans; you’ll be reading it. Perhaps after dark. Perhaps while you hear an unfamiliar sound in the Perhaps after everyone else in your residence has gone to sleep. Perhaps both of the above.

*Don’t ever have Dave Navarro on again as a guest, please. He didn’t even know the names of a couple of the core characters. Also, he was an arrogant dick to Glenn Mazzara, current show-runner (who was also a show-runner of one of the best TV series of all time,  The Shield). “Superfan,” my ass.

**I know the show runners of the AMC adaptation have confirmed the Governor will show up at some point, (there was a rumor John Hawkes–who, by the way, is an actor I’ve loved in everything I’ve seen him in or on) had been cast, which was officially denied later by Mr. Hawkes’ publicist) but they are going to have to really, really water the storyline and content down if they plan on it even resembling some of THAT–unless AMC wants the majority of the viewers to get in the shower, curl up and wrap their arms around their knees and cry, rocking back and forth. Probably also disturbed enough that they’ll have to call in sick the next couple days because they’re too depressed to get out of bed. If you’ve read that far, you know the series of increasingly horrifying events following are so bloodcurdling, nasty, graphic, and brutal would be rated NC-17 …R at best if they water down the comic’s storyline …and this is AMC, not Starz or HBO. Even FX would probably not be able to show it, and I’ve seen some shocking, raunchy, nightmarish stuff on FX series before (The Shield, nip/tuck) but AMC? No way, no matter how high the ratings are.

***I also want, very strongly,  to write about the Crossed series of graphic novels, but first I have to warn my Dad to *not* read any of those pieces. Hey, would YOU want your parents to read it, or even see one of the splash-panels? There was an …event  …in Crossed: Family Values so blood-curdling and disturbing I didn’t even feel comfortable describing it to my husband. If you’ve read the series, you know the one I mean. I read it about a year ago, and there’s a splash panel that I still cannot get out of my head.  Since he’s not a big horror fan, I’ll just keep that one to myself for the most part.  Oh, and I saw the series of  NSFW alternate covers for the second two volumes  yesterday on the Avatar Comics website. I actually thought of recording my hushed verbal reactions to them because it would have been funny, and I think similar to most fans: “Hoooooooleeeeyyyy….” “Jeeeeeesus, that …is…” “Fuuuuccccck….”

So, What Do You Fellow Horror Fans Think?

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