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Monday, November 06, 2006

The Walking Dead Volume 5: The Best Defense (Walking Dead)

Book Description
As the survivors settle into their prison home something has drawn them out into the open... out of the prison... out of their sanctuary. This is a major turning point for the overall story of The Walking Dead, setting the stage for years to come.

The fifth volume in Image's The Walking Dead zombie series has finally been released after a very long delay. Does the story collected within this volume worth the long wait for fans of the books? I would say with a definitive yes that it is and was worth the wait. The Best Defense brings the story back to its horrific roots while keeping enough of the emotional travails of Rick and his band of survivors.

This graphic novel collects issues 25 through 30. Kirkman starts the story back up again in what seemed like just a few days since the shocking revelation of the last collection. There's still tension amongst the survivors living inside the prison. Relationships between characters are explored but not to the point that the story heads down into soap opera level. These are individuals who have been pushed close to the breaking point and clutching at whatever hope and love available to them even if it means forming some very unorthodox relationships. But don't that give you the impression that The Best Defense once again becomes too heavily-invested in telling a story about the survivors feelings.

This collection starts up a new story-arc where the survivors have been given a new impetus to venture out of the safe confines of their prison home. I don't want to spoil it for those who still haven't had a chance to read this brand new story-arc, but let's just say that something falls out of the sky that forces Rick, Glenn and Michonne to try out new riot police armor and gear to venture out into the wild. What they find is shocking to say the least. Survivors other than themselves are found, but their similarities end at that word. Where Rick and his group have tried to create a stable and ideal place to live at, despite the differences between some of the characters, this new band of survivors have continued to exist due to the harsh, if not sadistic rule of their self-appointed survivor: The Governor.

The Governor becomes the newest danger to Rick and his group. It's difficult to fully villify this character due to his ability to keep his own group alive. His actions easily makes him out to be the major villain in this story, but he also has kept his own people alive. Could Rick have turned out the same if he was pushed to the point of no return? It's hard to say, but the difference between Rick and The Governor doesn't seem far off.

The Best Defense marks a return to what makes The Walking Dead one of the best written comics today. Robert Kirkman seem to have gotten all the angst out of his system and has found the balance between the horror and the emotional aspect of the story once again. The Best Defense collection doesn't end easily due to a major cliffhanger hanging over every reader's head, but it's a cliffhanger that will certainly get its fans eagerly awaiting for the next collection to be collated and published.

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