The Walking Dead – Vol. 5 & 6: “The Best Defence” and “This Sorrowful Life” Review

(Anime on a Monday and a comic review on Friday?! Stupid review embargo!) My first look through the Walking Dead comics has brought me to the Governor and his Woodbury settlement, something that was a bit of a mess in the TV show and it turns out is a mess in the comics as well, just in a very different and far more literal way! Let’s take a look, then, but not too long of a look because yikes, some panels in these pages were quite the sight…

Synopsis:

Rick, Michonne and Glenn find a small town called Woodbury, where a well-armed and organized group of survivors has taken refuge.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

The moment Robert Kirkman regretted for the rest of the Walking Dead comic’s run…

So Rick, Glenn and Michonne head out into the wilderness after they spot a helicopter that crashes in a nearby forest. They don’t find survivors but they do find tracks that show someone arrived and took any survivors to another settlement. They follow the tracks and soon come across a bunch of armed men who escort them to their town: Woodbury. They meet the charismatic Governor who shows them their old Roman style fights to the death surrounded by chained zombies and then proceeds to chop off Rick’s right hand to get some answers, an act that writer Robert Kirkman would later regret as it made Rick harder to write for in action scenes going forward, but there you go. All three are soon captured after Michonne bites a chunk of the Governor’s ear off and while Rick goes to the local Doctor Glenn is thrown in a cell and Michonne is tied up and beat / raped repeatedly by the Governor in some properly nasty scenes, even though you don’t actually see the act, thank God.

We soon see the Governor’s zombie head collection and his zombie niece all chained up, so some things were the same as the later adaptation, and Dr. Stevens tells Rick how nobody challenges his blatant evilness because he managed to use a nearby abandoned National Guard post to secure weapons and wall off parts of the city to keep them safe, and that’s all the people value. Eventually The Governor agrees to let Michonne off her daily activities in order for her to appear in their apparently staged gladiatorial fights but she only decapitates her opponent and all the chained up zombies, angering the man further. Meanwhile Rick and Glenn managed to gather some anti-Governor allies in Dr. Stevens, his nurse Alice and soldier Caesar Martinez and they soon free Michonne and begin their escape, though Michonne turns back for some revenge and Stevens is killed on the way out. Michonne gets her revenge (and then some… I’ll get to that in a bit) while everyone makes it to the Prison only to see it swarmed with zombies and Otis dead (hooray!)

People killing zombies! It does still happen, from time to time…

Rick and co. reunite with everyone and together they beat back the zombie horde, though Tyreese immediately goes into “you’re a cripple now, stay back and we’ll handle everything” mode (I can already see Kirkman’s remorse over that decision!). Rick then figures out Caesar isn’t with them and quickly jumps in the RV and runs him over on his way back to Woodbury to report their location. Glenn then asks Maggie to marry him, which she agrees so it’s not all bad, I guess! Also during the early stages of this story Carol tried to convince Lori that she and Rick should allow her into their relationship for a three-way love fest, much to Lori shock and confusion. That was funny, in a weird and sad mental breakdown sort of way. Anyway, Rick tells everyone about Woodbury and that while they’re not sure if the Governor survived he is sure the Woodbury group will figure out where they are soon and attack them, so they better be prepared…

The Bad:

Yeah… I’m going to leave the rest to your imagination, something I sadly couldn’t do!

Now, I’m not a squeamish man, not by any stretch, but I will admit feeling uncomfortable at two points during these two volumes. The first when The Governor puts Glenn in the cell next to Michonne in order for him to hear him beat and rape her as she cries and screams, and while you only see Glenn’s horrified expression rather than the act you do get the running commentary. Very unpleasant, didn’t really need that to be a thing. This was seemingly redeemed by Michonne getting revenge, but that too went too far. Like WAY too far. The beating was fine, chopping off one of his arms and then blow torching it to stop the bleeding, erm, okay I guess, popping one of his eyes out with a spoon in graphic detail? At that point, multiple pages in, I’d had enough of graphic torture comic and wanted something else… anything else. I get that it was almost a make-good after the constant rape and torture that had been implied and that it was also to do with Michonne’s split personality (she’s later seen talking to her other self and saying she went too far) but I can’t help but feel some panels should’ve been left to the imagination…

Other than that though it was a good two volumes. Can’t say I cared for Otis getting back together with Patricia getting panel time but the racist git died anyway, so who cares in the long run!

Overall Thoughts:

“Otis?! Oh no! …. Anyway…”

Volumes 5 and 6 of The Walking Dead show us our first confrontation with another settlement (first of many!) and it was good in the sense that they went above and beyond to make sure I really hated the Governor before making me feel slightly ill at the site of his own torture. Looking forward to the payback, although I know at least one unpleasant outcome from that part of the story ahead of time I’m interested in seeing how the rest originally played out in the comics!

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