The Good: Good character development, Engaging-enough plot.
The Bad: Mediocre artwork, Repetitive in context
The Basics: The Walking Dead - Book Eight finds the survivors near Washington coming into contact with more survivors and foreshadowing a war to come!
As I prepare to binge-watch the entire fourth season of The Walking Dead, I am catching up on the graphic novels for The Walking Dead. While I have already reviewed The Walking Dead: We Find Ourselves (reviewed here!), I picked up the larger volume The Walking Dead - Book Eight, which includes that volume’s “chapters.” The story of The Walking Dead in Book Eight is the twelve issues of the serialized comic book (issues 85 – 95) in anthology form and the story is long-beyond the point where readers can simply pick up the book and start the series.
That said, The Walking Dead - Book Eight is a solid story for fans of the story of “survival horror.” More than most of the prior volumes, The Walking Dead - Book Eight has the characters in the universe of The Walking Dead moving beyond the day to day struggle against the undead who have been wandering the world since the outbreak. Almost two years after the initial outbreak, Rick Grimes and his survivors have found safety within the walls of a community near Alexandria, Virginia. The Walking Dead - Book Eight is a good transition book that involves Grimes and his community both getting settled and then moving into the world outside, which makes for a surprisingly compelling narrative, even if it is not the most complicated plot.
After Nicholas freaks out and draws a gun on Rick in the survivor’s community, the community consolidates and comes together. Weeks later, coming back from a supply run, the survivors are followed. Heading out, Michonne and Abraham encounter Paul Monroe. Monroe responds to the pair by defensively capturing Abraham until Rick Grimes appears to negotiate with him. Monroe, who is called Jesus by his community, tells Rick that he comes from a community, Hilltop, which has started trading with other survivors groups. After an extended interrogation, Rick comes to believe Jesus and he and a small team (which, much to his chagrin, includes Carl) go back to visit Hilltop.
At Hilltop, Jesus introduces Rick to Gregory, the community’s leader. Shortly after they meet, though, one of Hilltop’s citizens returns from a supply run and he tries to kill Gregory and then Rick. In self-defense, Rick kills the man and that inspires Jesus to open up to him. Hilltop is exactly what it seems; a community that has successfully started to trade with other survivor villages. Unfortunately, Hilltop is also under the thumb of Negan, a warlord who offers a protection racket from the walkers in exchange for half of all that Hilltop produces or trades for. Rick decides to take up the cause, offering defense to Hilltop in exchange for supplies.
The big decision Rick makes in The Walking Dead - Book Eight does not have any consequences within this book; it comes in far too late to be what the book is about. Instead, this volume is an essential as a bridge between the impossible problems faced by people living in a world where zombies ravage them at any opportunity and a narrative that might start to focus more on the challenges of the survivors reassembling the world. The Walking Dead - Book Eight is about how hardened humans relate to one another and how they begin to create relationships, communities and a world at large after the apocalypse. The story of The Walking Dead makes an important transition in Book Eight between a far less realistic adversary and the problems that would come from those who survive that experience trying to create something more.
The Walking Dead - Book Eight is a foreshadowing book and given the hope I have for where the story might go, it is very easy to recommend it. Rick Grimes makes some important decisions in The Walking Dead - Book Eight and the transition from nebulous hordes of zombie adversaries to another human enemy promises to shake up the formula of The Walking Dead.
Sadly, like normal, The Walking Dead - Book Eight features artwork that is often mediocre. Charlie Aldard does amazing artwork for the big splash pages, but the smaller panels have such a lack of detail that the story frequently has poor flow as a result. That said, The Walking Dead - Book Eight is not the most visual storyline, so the craptastic artwork does not matter as much as in some of the prior books. That, along with actually developing the characters makes The Walking Dead - Book Eight worth reading!
For other The Walking Dead books, check out my reviews of:
Days Gone Bye
Fear The Hunters
Life Among Them
For other graphic novel reviews, please check out my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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