The Walking Dead – Vol. 3 & 4: “Safety Behind Bars” and “The Heart’s Desire” Review

The next two volumes of The Walking Dead comic see the group set up in the Prison but things go quite differently than it did in the later TV adaptation as they really push the idea of the human survivors butting heads in a new world without law and what that means. It’s really good stuff and tonally very different from what I know as the show. It’s starting to seem like the people praising the comics may have been on to something…

Synopsis:

The band of survivors as they set up a permanent camp inside a prison. Relationships change, characters die, and our team of survivors learn there’s something far more deadly than zombies out there: each other.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

After showing no zombies last time, here is a series of panels of various characters Wrok, Spak, Blam and Skragg-ing a bunch of them!

As mentioned these volumes are all about internal struggles within our group of survivors, as well as a small band of inmates they discover alive in the prison they take. They immediately distrust the group of cons for, well, obvious reasons, especially Dexter who was behind bars because of killing someone out of revenge. Before the cons really do anything Tyreese’s daughter and her boyfriend decide to kill each other in a murder-suicide but they mistime it and only Tyreese’s daughter is killed, though an incensed Tyreese soon sees to that. He then takes a group into a massive gym to clear it of zombies but becomes overwhelmed, leading to everyone running and leaving him behind. Rick hears of this and heads back to the gym only to find all the zombies dead and Tyreese laying up against a wall asking what took them so long. That was a great moment, no wonder comic fans were bigging up the comic Tyreese compared to the TV version (who was introduced as one of the cons in that version, incidentally).

Things heat up again when two of Hershel’s daughters are murdered, with Rick and everyone assuming it was Dexter so locking him behind bars. Rick especially feels guilty as he headed back to the farm to bring Hershel and his family to the prison in order to keep them safe, only for that to happen. It soon turns out that it was actually ex-con Thomas Richards who had killed them after he’s caught trying kill Andrea. He had lied, saying he was in prison for tax fraud, and is soon soundly beaten by Rick, escapes thanks to idiot Patricia, and then is killed by Maggie. It’s a fine little arc and loses Andrea an earlobe, which is unpleasant.

Not really anything funny I can type here… Oh well.

Dexter, idiot Patricia again, and a second con stage a coup with a bunch of prison weapons that only they knew about but they’re interrupted by a zombie hoard, during which Rick takes the opportunity to shoot Dexter in the head and pretend is was a misfire in the middle of the chaos. Tyreese caught him, though doesn’t mention it to anybody. A new survivor in Michonne arrives, complete with zombies on a chain (so that was something directly lifted from the comics!) and soon starts a fooling around with Tyreese which makes his on-again, off-again lover Carol breakdown to the point of slitting her wrists. This causes Rick to go on a verbal berating of Tyreese, bringing up the death of his daughter and other such stuff, leading to Tyreese also bring up several of Rick’s poor decisions and the two go from horrible shouting match to full on fist-fight, even falling from the railings to the floor below. It was really realistic in a not-very-realistic situation and absolutely gripping.

After this Dale informs Rick that they’re forming a committee of four to make major decisions so all the pressure doesn’t fall on Rick, which he gladly accepts. After Thomas, who was killed but not bitten, comes back to life as a zombie Rick realises something and heads off on a long journey back to their original hideout and unearths Shane, who he had buried assuming he wouldn’t zombify given his non-zombie death, and kills the zombie Shane. It was quite a “cool” moment, for lack of a better term. The volume ends with Rick’s infamous “WE are the walking dead!” speech, which while cheesy and that idea didn’t really need to be pointed out, it’s still enjoyable.

The Bad:

Rick “accidentally” catching Dexter in the head during a shootout…

Nothing too bad. I still didn’t care about Allen, who here is bitten on the leg and quickly amputated like Hershel was in the TV show except Allen doesn’t survive here. Didn’t really care, honestly. I just never connected with the character. Speaking of which there’s Patricia and Otis, a couple who were living with Hershel and his family who also move to the prison. It’s the same Patricia who goes crazy and tries to let Thomas out and nearly dies for it, then agrees to team with Dexter during his coup. Otis breaks things up with her because of these acts as well as for hanging out with a “n****r” which is always pleasant to read. I’m very much looking forward to both of them dying soon.

Overall Thoughts:

I have to agree with baldy Glenn here…

“Safety Behind Bars” and “The Heart’s Desire” were two really enjoyable chunks of Walking Dead, a heavy focus on the struggle between huddled survivors and the need to establish rules in order to survive. We certainly never got anything as heated as Rick and Tyreese’s fight during the TV show, that’s for sure, it was the comic-equivalent of being glued to the screen (but you know, “Glued to the page” sounds rude, so…) I’m starting to see the appeal of the comics, even the higher swear count and sex is only ever done in a more “realistic” way rather than for the sake of it. Once again I’m looking forward to more!

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