Written By: Robert Kirkman
Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Distributed By: Image Comics
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Now that I was all caught up with The Walking Dead and Season 6 was finally over, I decided I would do some catching up where the comic book series is concerned. So, I picked up a copy of The Walking Dead: Compendium Three containing issues 97-144 of the comic book series that inspired the television show.
Things in the comics start off with Rick and his crew attempting to take out Saviors, never truly realizing the strength in numbers of their rivals. The leader of the Saviors, Negan, and his pet barbed wire wrapped baseball bat, Lucille, not only teaches Rick the lesson of knowing your enemy before agreeing to confront them, but he also reminds Rick that not every past enemy is the worst they’ve encountered. One more important lesson – even longstanding members can still die.
Thus, the fateful Issue #100, in which we lose Glenn. Before the fight with Negan and his crew is over, Rick’s crew is over, Rick loses a great many people. Even combining strengths with The Hilltop community and The Kingdom, a new group introduced by Jesus led by a man named Ezekiel and his tiger Shiva, Negan proves to be a formidable and ruthless enemy. We are introduced to another nasty weapon thought up by Negan – even nastier than Lucille – sort of a skew on germ warfare in the form of zombie-contaminated weaponry.
After lots of explosions, losses of life and limb, a couple of misguided assassination attempts and some rather incredible strings of the “F”-bomb by Negan, Ricks combined forces join with disaffected Saviors to beat out Negan. Rick decides to spare Negan’s life instead of exacting the revenge everyone was hoping for.
Flash forward a few years and Alexandria is a thriving community in a trade agreement with The Hilltop, The Kingdom and the Saviors, all equally thriving. Negan is kept imprisoned in a cell in Rick’s basement where he is visited by Rick every day to remind him of his plight, and separately by Carl who hates Negan, but somehow has a strange bond with the man, respecting his advice. Maggie is running Hilltop and Carl is hoping to move there to learn the blacksmith trade. Meanwhile, Alexandria is planning its first fair to celebrate the unity of the various communities and to trade wares, reuniting many an old friend.
But all is not entirely peaceful – patrols are starting to go missing as they venture further beyond their borders. A new enemy awaits the survivors and they are vast and well-hidden. And there are even more enemies lurking within the ranks – folks who are not at all keen on the new leadership. Can internal struggles and a new enemy destroy all that Rick, Maggie and the others have worked so hard to build?
A lot behind the scenes characters move center stage in the series while others are taken out. I can see Kirkman’s vision in the television series now – where his “What Ifs” come out to play. The television series Ingrid is the comic book series Sophia. The television series Carol’s struggles with killing and allowing herself to be happy are the same as the comic book Michonne’s struggles. The television series Michonne is now the comic book series Andrea. The television series Olivia takes the comic book Abraham’s place, getting killed with an arrow to the eye socket, but I think that the television series Abraham is about to take the comic book Glenn’s place as Lucille’s victim. We’ll see.
I love that the television series doesn’t follow the comic book series to the letter and I truly hope that this is the case as it pertains to the Negan storyline. The war with Negan in the comics is incredibly long and drawn out. The character of Negan is too similar to that of the Governor with his dual roles of charismatic leader and ruthless despot. I expect that to carry through in the television series, I just hope that we get to that knowledge faster.
I enjoyed the direction of the storyline and loved the psychological explanations regarding why Rick keeps Negan alive, but internal dangers are handled differently. The idea that a leader has to be above the killing and set the example for the new world order is all well and good when the enemy is contained, but what happens in the case of this new breed of enemy? I guess we’ll have to wait to find out.
I also enjoyed the artwork as the new growth of the towns called for more complex structures to be drawn. However, I did see some problems with regard to repetitiveness, like when we first see the jailed Negan and he looks a whole lot like the Governor or when one of the newcomers looks exactly like Maggie’s long dead brother.
Despite that, I can honestly say that the series hasn’t lost any of its shock value. We love that no one is safe in this series, not even long standing characters, and that doesn’t seem like a rule that is going to change any time soon. That being said, how long can we continue this series without ever finding out how this all began or if there is even a possibility for a cure?
Whatever the future holds for this comic book series, it sure has been one helluva ride! I hope a Compendium Four is in the works! I can’t wait to see what happens next!