|“I think we’ve hit the jackpot.”
This book continues the story begun in volume 1 and collects issues 7 – 12 of the ongoing series and the story provides the basis for some of what we have seen, so far, in the second season. Again it was written by Robert Kirkman but this time the art was by Charlie Adlard whose work I know from a number of 2000AD series including Judge Dredd and Armitage.
The group decide to break camp in the wake of events at the end of book 1. Finding a gated community stocked with canned food, they think that their troubles are over for a while but have to run for their lives in the morning when they find that it is overrun with zombies. While out hunting on a rest stop, Rick’s son Carl is shot and taken to a remote farm house for treatment. While Carl is healing, the rest of the group arrive and make camp on the farm. Rick again feels that they have struck it lucky until he finds out about the contents of the barn …
This is another great volume in the series. The drama is heightened in the wake of the killing at the end of book 1 as everyone in the group comes to terms with the deaths. A pattern is established of a period of respite, perceived safety and reflection amongst the group followed by explosive outbursts of violence as the zombies make their presence felt.
Spoilers ahead: for those who have seen the TV series but not read the books (or vice versa) I am going to discuss in the rest of this post some of the differences between the two. So stop reading now if you don’t want to know.
The first half of the book deals with the aftermath of the invasion of zombies into the camp, the shooting of Shane and break up of the camp. On the road the travelers pick up three more survivors, who have yet to appear in the series, one of whom, Tyreese, soon becomes Rick’s closest friend amongst the survivors. This further deepens the difference in the composition of the groups that we follow in the comic compared to the TV series.
Also in the first half of the book, they come across a gated housing community called Wiltshire Estates and narrowly escape from it as they find it infested with zombies. This is a standalone episode that could be inserted into the TV series at any time in the future – it is replaced in the series with the disappearance of and search for Sophia.
The second half of the book deals with the shooting of Carl and the group’s presence on Hershel’s farm. The big surprise to me is the pacing of this in the comic having spent most of the first half of the second season in this location. In the comic the arrival, the revelation of the contents of the barn and the zombie barrel shoot is all done and dusted within 3 issues.The pace is slowed down in the TV series to allow for even more character development than is possible in the comic.
The zombie massacre at the end of the book is handled very differently between the two media and it will be interesting to see where the TV series goes now in the aftermath of this as there is a big change in the traveling group, as a result of events leading up to the massacre, in the comics. Right at the end of the book, after being turfed off the farm by Hershel, they find a prison which they hope they can use as a place of safety – but given their luck with safe havens so far is going to to be wishful thinking.