The Walking Dead – Season 4.5 Trailer

the-walking-dead-season-4-posterThe Walking Dead returns this February 9th. And of course, after what happened with the mid season finale, fans are eagerly anticipating what’s coming. And so am I, now that things are back on track and the show is closely mirroring what went on in the original comic. In fact, the caption “Don’t Look Back” is a reference to the last line from Volume 8: Made To Suffer, which was also the last line of the last episode.

Of course, this line has a double meaning, referring to how Rick and Carl needed to abandon the prison with all speed. It’s also a reference to how the two will have to put their grief behind them if they are going to survive in the wilderness now. The other survivors – Daryl Dixon, Tyreese, Michonne, Glenn, Maggie, and the rest – were separated from them, and are facing similar challenges.

Rick_Grimes_Carl_Grimes_-_The_Walking_DeadThis is of course how season 4.5 will open, with the two groups looking for food, shelter and safety. And I anticipate they will meet up with a few people from the Governor’s camp, as some attention was dedicated to how his one-time companions made it out in one piece – such as Tara, and perhaps her sister Lilly. We’ll see how that plays out.

And if I were to make some predictions – based on what they’ve done with the show and from the comics – I think they will find their way back to Morgan, and this time around he will join them. It’s also obvious that the two camps will eventually reunite, but I anticipate that will take several episodes. We all know how they just love to drag things out on the show, don’t we?

For the season finale, I anticipate they will find their way back to Hershel’s farm, and that it will end with the addition of some new characters and a new hope which will put them back on the road again. Can’t be more specific, as that would involve major spoilers! In the meantime, enjoy the new trailer. Hopefully, it will tide us over until next week!

The Walking Dead Season 4B Trailer

TWD_S4-B_FEB2014Earlier this month, AMC released a teaser trailer for the second half of season four of The Walking Dead. And as you can see, they kept it simple, focusing on action, crisis, and all the other stuff that the show is famous for. And despite the brevity of it, a few things were made clear from this half-minute clip. For instance, we see who survives the prison debacle to fight another day and what they will be up to.

This includes Rick, Carl, Daryl, Michonne, Tyreese, Sasha, Glenn, Maggie, Beth, and Bob, all of whom find themselves in the wilderness and looking for a place to hunker down. I know, no big revelations there, they did all make it out of the prison last time I checked. But they are also traveling separately at this point, with some fighting Walkers while Rick is forced to fight with his injuries and his demons.

This last aspect is something very much on point with the plot of the original comic. You see, in that version, Rick not only lost his baby Judith during the Governor’s assault on the prison, but Lori as well. With his wife and daughter dead, but son still alive, he had to cling to what little sanity he had for both their sakes. And having been seriously injured, Carl was also terrified he would die and come back…

Lot’s of potential there! First episode of the latter half of the season airs on February 9th. Enjoy the clip!

The Walking Dead – Season Four, Episode Six

wd_season4And we’re back with more of AMC’s The Walking Dead. This week, the sixth episode aired, with just more to go before the show takes another mid-season break. And it’s clear that they are working up to something climactic, given that the story involving the flu that’s sweeping the prison has finally come to an end. And it’s pretty clear at this point who’s going to be involved.

As expected, this week’s episode was all about the Governor, addressing what happened to him after the events of the last season. This would be everything that followed from the abortive attack on the prison, his subsequent breakdown and summary execution of his people, and his fleeing into the wilderness. And in all honesty, it was kind of interesting…

Live Bait:
wd4_livebait_govThe episode begins with a recap of what happened since the Season Three finale. After shooting his own people, the Governor and what was left of his henchmen drove to a spot in the wilderness where they set up camp. In the morning when the Governor awoke, he realized he had been abandoned by the last of them and drove to Woodbury. Finding it abandoned, he set the town ablaze and began walking the road.

After wandering for quite some time, he comes upon a community where a family is held up in an apartment complex. This consists of Lily (a former nurse), her daughter Megan, sister Tara (a police academy student), and father David (a former truck driver). After meeting with them and telling them his name is Brian, he takes the apartment across the hall and begins helping them.

wd4_livebaitEventually, Lily asks for his help in obtaining more oxygen tanks from the nearby senior care center. Her father, who is dying of lung cancer, is running out, and she fears what will happen to her daughter if he dies. Brian goes to the center and finds a large stash, but is quickly set upon by a dozen or so Walkers and has to retreat with what he can carry.

Afterward, Lily begins to attend to his injuries and tells him that Megan initially thought that Brian was her father, who disappeared three years back. Megan is left to watch over him and asks what happens to his eye, and the two quickly begin to bond. He teaches her to play chess, and she draws an eye patch on the king to make it look like him.

wd4_livebait2Afterwards, he and Megan learn that David has died, and may have been dead for some time. He tells them to leave, but David comes back before they can, and Brian crushes his head with an oxygen tank. After burying him outside, Tara tells him that they understand what that their father had turned, and forgive him for what he did.

That night in his room, Brian burns a picture he has been keeping of himself with his wife and daughter and tells Lily that he’s leaving. Lily tells him they are coming too to find something better, and that he’s stuck with them. Grabbing the truck David commandeered, they begin to drive off. While on the road, Brian and Lily make love while the others sleep.

wd4_livebait3The next day, the truck won’t start and they begin walking. On the road, they are spotted by a herd of Walkers and are forced to ditch their gear and run. After clearing the forest by the side of the road, Brian and Megan fall into a trench and are set upon by several more and Brian manages to kill them with his bare hands. After reassuring Megan, he looks up and sees Martinez looking down at them.

Summary:
Well, that’s part I of what happened to the Governor down. And judging from the sneak peak, part II is all about him and his new family being introduced to a new community, one which is run by Martinez himself. And of course, things go awry, and I’m guessing the Governor deciding to oust Martinez as leader has something to do with that.

wd4_livebait5But getting back to what happened this week, I would reiterate that it seemed interesting. After all he’s done and been through, it was kind of neat to see what the Governor got up to after his sudden disappearance. It’s always good in a series when a character who is considered evil and irredeemable is given a second chance at life and finds a way to carry on.

However, I would have to say that things began to fall apart for me when it became obvious that Lily, Tara and Megan are becoming his new family. The indications were many and obvious, and it seemed like the moment David died, it would prove to be the case. And if all those hints weren’t enough, he even burns the picture of his old family just to make it abundantly clear.

wd4_livebait4I did suspect that there might be some tension after Lily and he hooked up, but they pretty much nullified that with the 11th hour revelation that Tara is a lesbian. Kind of seemed a bit awkward and forced, but whatever. I guess they had their hands full with finding a way to both fill in the missing pieces of the story and bring it back to the point where he begins messing with the prison crew again.

Some things I did like is where the Governor takes out several Walkers with his bare bands. Not since Michonne had her hands bound and her sword confiscated have we seen such creativity at work. And I was also surprised to see Martinez at the end, and was intrigued by the idea of the Governor being forced to endure his leadership for a change. I imagine some interesting scenarios occurring in the episodes to come.

wd4_livebait6On the other hand, I do kind of worry that the Governor’s role in this season is going to last to the end. With just two more episodes before the season halfway mark, I’m thinking that the next two episodes will both involve the Governor, in full or in part. That way, he can remain in the background for the rest of the season as the prison crew’s antagonist, thus ending the season with a final battle.

Which means it won’t be until season five that they’ll be getting back to anything resembling the original plot. Still, should be interesting, and the prospect of a little action where the Governor is no longer in charge and fighting for some other than brutal, backstabbing revenge will certainly be worth watching! Until next week…

“Zombie Story”

Zombie_StoryCame across this video crossover not too long ago, and I have to say I was impressed. Drawing parallels between AMC’s The Walking Dead and the Toy Story franchise, creator John Wray uses video clips to illustrate how these two franchises – which could not be more different in terms of target audiences – really aren’t that different.

Rzombie_story1anging from the main characters (Sheriff Woody vs. Sheriff Rick), to the boy’s they love (Andy vs. Carl), to the conflict over who’s their primary caregiver (Woody or Buzz vs. Rick or Shane), to the dangerous hordes they routinely face (little kids vs. Walkers), the benevolent leader who turns out to be a psycho (Lotso vs. The Governor), there really are a lot of similarities to be found.

Granted, none of this is to be taken seriously, but it is very well made, right down to similar events in the story and bits of footage. Who knew Disney and Robert Kirkman could be of similar minds? Then again, ol’ Walt is rumored to be frozen somewhere, a living dead entity awaiting the day when he can be thawed and begin walking the Earth again.

Enjoy the clip!

The Walking Dead: Season Four (Episodes 1-3)

Well, its been three weeks, and season four of one of TV’s top rated shows right now is back in full swing. And while I wanted to get on the episodes soon as they started coming out, circumstances kind of got in the way. First I was away for a week, then I took the time to write about other things, and then the episodes began piling up. That’s when the procrastination started settling in…

However, now that we are three full episodes into the season and I’ve finally managed to watch them, I feel I’ve gotten a pretty good take on what the story arc for season four is so far. And having recently read all issues to date of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, I was able to spot all the big differences, and you can bet I will be pointing them out! So without further delay or ado, I give you season four of AMC’s The Walking Dead!

https://i1.wp.com/i2.cdnds.net/13/14/618x374/ustv-the-walking-dead-s03-e16-3.jpgTo recap a little first, I would reiterate that last season’s finale was a big letdown to me. Myself and many fans lamented the fact that after many episodes of building up to a climactic clash between Woodbury and the prison camp, the final battle was quite the fizzle. Not only were the Governor’s people routed rather easily from the prison, but the Governor himself then went batsh*t crazy, shot everybody, and then ran off into the wilderness.

This, plus the fact that Rick and his people then traveled to Woodbury and brought the remaining townspeople back to the prison to live with them represented a major departure from the original comics. As a result, I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the new season. On the one hand, it held the promise of the unexpected; but on the other, it would certainly be more of a departure from the original material.

30 Days Without An Accident:
https://i0.wp.com/comicbook.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/the-walking-dead-season-4-rick-grimes-walkers.jpgThe season opens with a look at a seriously changed prison, which has been augmented with new buildings in the courtyard to accommodate the new people. The new arrivals appear to have been integrated, teams comb the fence to kill Walkers, and Daryl is getting ready to make another run to town for supplies. He is joined by Glenn, Tyreese, Sasha, a young man named Zack and a former army medic named Bob.

They set out for town to check a major department store called Big Spot, the parking of lot of which had been turned into an army checkpoint. The camp was since overrun by Walkers which they managed to lure away with loud music, and they go in to sweep the store. Unbeknownst to them, the roof is crawling with Walkers and was the site of a chopper crash.

https://i2.wp.com/wac.450f.edgecastcdn.net/80450F/screencrush.com/files/2013/10/Untitled.jpgAfter Bob causes some shelves to fall over and pin him down, Walkers hear them inside and begin converging on a weak spot in the roof. They then begin to fall through, and Daryl in the others are forced to fight them off while trying to free Bob from where he was pinned. Zack (Beth’s boyfriend) is bitten, but the rest manage to escape before the wreckage of the chopper falls through the roof and causes the building to collapse.

Meanwhile, Rick heads out to the forest to check their snares for dead animals. He is convinced by Hershel and the Council to take his gun for his own safety, and find a woman on the other side who appears to be uninfected. She tells him she and her husband have been on their own, and asks permission to join Rick’s camp. He tentatively agrees, but only after he meets her husband.

https://i2.wp.com/images.amcnetworks.com/amctv.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/twd-s4-first-look-590.jpgWhen they arrive at her camp, she tries to kill Rick but fails. He realizes her husband is now a Walker and she was simply luring him back so she could feed him something living. She then begs Rick not to kill once she’s turned, and stabs herself in the stomach. She dies saying that “you can’t come back from the things you’ve done”, and Rick leaves her and her Walker husband behind.

Back at camp, Carl is left with the other children, much to his chagrin. Car overhears Carol telling them a story before moving on to how to use a knife. When Carol sees Carl watching, she asks him not to tell Rick, and he leaves. The others return to camp, Glenn and Beth talk about having a baby, and Beth is told of Zack’s death. She goes to a chart she’s made that says “Days without an accident” and resets it to zero.

https://i2.wp.com/scifi.grande-caps.net/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/normal_twd401.pngRick returns and talks to Hershel about the woman he encountered, and how she reminded him of how far he came to losing it as she did. Hershel assures him that “you do get to come back”, and reminds him of how and Carl have. In the prison showers, one of the new arrivals – a boy named Patrick – succumbs to an illness that’s been effecting the livestock and comes back as a Walker.

Infected:
https://i0.wp.com/i2.cdnds.net/13/43/618x411/ustv-the-walking-dead-s04-e02-7.jpgThe episode opens with Karen (a new arrival) and Tyreese having a romantic evening, before she decides to head back to her room. Patrick, now a Walker, follows her from the shower room to D block. He hears a man coughing from another cell, enters his room and kills him in his sleep. The man then turns, and begins stalking the Block with Patrick and attacking others.

Rick and Carl are outside tending to the pigs and crops while Michonne is about to make another sweep for the Governor. Word then reaches them that Walkers are inside the perimeter and they run to D Block to kill those who are have turned while getting the others out. Maggie and Carl fight to get Michonne back inside after she hurts herself dealing with several Walkers.

http://i1.wp.com/nerdbastards.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/the-walking-dead-infected-2.jpg?w=450Afterward, they examine Patrick’s body with the help of Dr. Subramanian and notice that he died of an illness that causes bleeding from the eyes. Having seen this before, with Walkers along the fenceline as well as pigs and birds in and around the camp, they reason that it is a flu strain that it is transmitted from swine and birds, and that it’s loose in the prison.

As they bury the dead, the Council begins to discuss what to do since everyone in D Block has been exposed. Karen is one such person, and she and the others are quarantined in Death Row while Dr. Subramanian tends to them. One of the fathers who died left two daughters behind  – LIzzy and Mika – who Carol has promised to look after, and worries that they have been exposed to.

https://i2.wp.com/geeksmash.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/The-Walking-Dead-Infected-Wall.jpgMeanwhile, the commotion caused by the outbreak draws more Walkers to the wall and a section begins to give.  Sasha noticed that someone has been leaving bait in that section to lure the Walkers to it. The wall nearly collapses, and Rick and Daryl drive out and drop all the pigs in the field to lure the Walkers away. This gives them the time they need to reinforce the wall, and disposes of the pigs which may have brought the flu.

Afterward, Rick sets the pig pen on fire and Carl tells him that Carol has been teaching the kids to use weapons without their parents knowing. He also tells him that he agrees with it, and asks his father to let her continue, which he does. Rick gives Carl back his gun, which he had been keeping away from him since he shot the boy from Woodbury.

While clearing the fence, Inside, Tyreese goes to visit Karen and finds a blood trail that leads outside. He realizes that she already succumbed to the flu and was placed outside with one other person, where they were both doused in gasoline and burned.

Isolation:
https://i2.wp.com/s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibtimes.com/files/styles/v2_article_large/public/2013/10/25/walking-dead.jpgRick, Daryl and Carol join Tyreese in the courtyard where he found the charred remains of Karen and David. He demands the Rick find out who did it and then let him deal with them personally, and he and Rick get into a terrible fight. Afterward, Rick is tended to by Hershel who tells him that they’ve lost 12 people from the flu, plus the two who were burned, and an outbreak may be likely.

Sasha and Dr. Subramanian have also become infected, and the Council begins turning into Cell Block A into an isolation area. The administrative area is set aside for the most vulnerable, which includes the children and the elderly. Hershel tells them they need to go to the local veterinary college for antibiotics, and Daryl agrees to take a search party out to check on it.

https://i1.wp.com/i2.cdnds.net/13/44/618x399/ustv-the-walking-dead-s04-e03-infected-11.jpgRick apologizes to Tyreese after the latter if finished burying Karen and David, and they agree to bury the hatchet. Tyreese once again reiterates that Rick needs to find the guilty party, and decides to look on his own since Rick appears to be dragging his heels on it. Carl joins the other kids in the sequestered area, and Glenn realizes he’s been infected too.

Carol helps the infected move to the quarantine zone and begins to crack after she is forced to admit Lizzy. Hershel goes out into the woods with Carl and collects elderberries to make medicinal tea. Rick and Maggie try to prevent him from going into the quarantine zone, but he insists that he would rather risk his life and help people rather than sit idly by.

https://i1.wp.com/tibs.threeifbyspace.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/TWD403_ZombieCrowdWide.jpgRick begins investigating Karen and David’s deaths and determines they were still alive when they were burnt. Carol discovers that their water lines have become clogged and defies Rick to go out and clear them. In time, her activities draw the attention of Walkers and Rick runs out to help her. She narrowly makes it back and Rick asks her if she killed Karen and David, to which she says yes.

After visiting with Sasha, Tyreese decides to accompany Daryl, Michonne and Bob as they make their run. They take a car and drive to town, during which time they hear a voice broadcasting on the radio. Unfortunately, the distraction causes them to drive into a herd of Walkers and the car becomes surrounded. Tyreese is enveloped and fights it out with his hammer, giving the rest time to flee. They run into the forest, and are followed shortly behind by an exhausted Tyreese.

Summary:
Okay, so three episodes in, and I’m already beginning to notice a bit of a pattern. At the tail end of last season, the prison camp emerged victorious from the fight with the Governor and several dozen extras were added to the cast – which as I’ve said represented a major departure from the original comics. This season, the goal appears to be to find ways to kill the extras off and make the core cast leave the prison behind.

That much was already hinted at from the previews released over the summer. And it makes me wonder just why it was necessary to end season three the way the did. Why give the characters a big happy ending that’s way off script if at the beginning of next season, you’re just going to hit them with a thousand and one calamities and make their lives miserable again?

https://i1.wp.com/i.imm.io/XpTj.pngWhat’s more, there’s the issue of who they’ve chosen to kill off versus keep alive. I can understand the decision to pad the cast with extras so they can be killed off and the core characters kept alive, but that’s not even what’s happening  here. At this point in the comic’s story, Andrea and Dale were still alive, but in season two and three of the show, they were both killed off.

Tyreese, Hershel and Carol were dead at this point too, but the former had been around since very early in the story. Now, we are just getting to know the man, and he really doesn’t seem much like his comic book self. Sure, they decided to keep his dark side which comes through in occasional explosions of violence. But otherwise, he seems like a real soft touch, not wanting to kill Walkers and hoping to stay away from it.

https://i1.wp.com/wac.450f.edgecastcdn.net/80450F/screencrush.com/files/2013/10/0-Main.jpgSome things they did manage to get right about Tyreese though. The way he fought off an entire herd of Walkers using only his hammer is reminiscent of the scene from Volume Four: The Heart’s Desire where he cleared the entire prison gymnasium by himself. And the way he and Rick fought in the same episode echoes what happened later in that same volume.

However, Carol’s character arc is going weird places. After being relatively marginalized last season, she has now taken on a weird dimension, becoming obsessed with protecting the others to the point that she is willing to immolate two living people. While she does possess some of aspects of the woman from the comic, I feel like they are just trying to pad her character now.

https://i0.wp.com/www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/thumbnail_570x321/2013/09/twds4_key-art.jpgBut all in all, I think its pretty obvious where things are going this season. Soon enough, the entire Woodbury crew, minus a few people – like Bob, who they seem intent on developing – are going to die off, they will find a traitor in their midst (possibly the Governor himself sneaking in at night), the prison is going to start falling apart, and they are going to have to relocate.

And I think that’s kind of a waste. After saving the place and building it up, they are going to simply abandon it? After adding all those new people to their community, they’re going to just die off? Kind of seems contrived to me. But at the same time, its kind of necessary if they are going to bring the plot of the show and the comic into parity again.

They’re into Volume Nine: Here We Remain territory now, where the prison was no longer their home and they had to take their chances in the wild again. And with that, I remain interested to see what they’re going to do with the rest of this season…

Back From Vacation!

ottawa-panoramaHey all! I just got in last night from Ottawa and let me tell you, it was quite the trip. We managed to do many things while we were there, including visiting my childhood home, my old neighborhood, my favorite watering holes and restaurants, and visited with many of my old friends! But at the same time, it’s good to be home. Visiting your old hometown and friends can be wonderful, but so can being back in the place you love with your wife and cat.

And I can tell, I have a lot of catching up to do. Seriously, if I thought I was behind before I left, I’m way behind now! Luckily, I have a revised to do list that covers what I hope to do in the coming weeks. While I was away, I actually managed to get some serious reading and editing done, and decided it was time to get back to a few ongoing projects that also begging for completion.

  • Catch up on sleep
  • Cut back on beer (sampled too many this time around!)
  • Watch the season premier and episode 2 of The Walking Dead
  • Review of the Akira graphic novel
  • Review of the Batman graphic novels – Arkham Asylum, The Killing Joke, The Man Who Laughs
  • Review of Rami Ungar’s The Quiet Game (overdue)
  • Catch up on Yuva stories
  • Catch up on other people’s posts

Sound like a plan? Good, then let’s get this party started! Good to be home…

The Walking Dead Issue 114!

Walking-Dead-114-CoverAll I can say is… finally! After another month and a half of waiting, and feeling pretty let down by the last issue, the final issue of Volume 19 is out! And it’s a good thing too. It’s pretty rare when the source material begins to seem like the show it was made into, but the last few issues/volumes of The Walking Dead have been dragging out in such a way that I was seriously beginning to think I was watching the show instead.

(**Spoilers ahead!**)

walking-dead-volume-19But that’s to be expected, given that the name of Volume 19 is March to War. Including issues 109 to 114, it covers  – at length – all the preparations Rick and his people are making, alongside the other communities, to prepare for war with their nemesis Negan. And in issue 112, foreseeing an opportunity, Rick jumped the gun and accidentally triggered things a bit prematurely.

Luckily, things worked out and his bacon was saved. This occurred in issue 113 and 114, where Andrea managed to avoid getting herself killed and “Jesus” and his pals showed up in time to scare Negan’s thugs off. However, Negan and what was left of his crew made it away and got back to his own headquarters, announcing to his many thugs that they were going to war.

walking-dead-volume-20Volume 20, titled All Out War (and which will include issues 115-126), will begin on October 9th (great, another month of waiting!). And after all the buildup, and the big ol’ inciting event that took place in the last two issues, we’re finally gonna get to see some war and hopefully watch Negan get his ass kicked! Or maybe he’ll win and all the characters we’ve come to know and love – those that remain – will die horribly!

But if I were a betting man, I would say that a combination of both is likely to occur. After all, it’s The Walking Dead, people! Things never end happily. They just go on and on…

The Walking (and Talking) Dead – A Bad Lip Reading

walkingdead_lipreadEveryone familiar with “A Bad Lip Reading”? Yeah, they do pretty good work. And this montage of Walking Dead scenes, dubbed awesomely bad, is golden!  I swear that sometimes these people seem like the most talented video spoofers on the internet today.

Oh, and be sure to stick with it right until the end. No spoilers, but the “La-Bibbida-Bibba-Dum” song alone is worth the price of admission!

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead – Part III

Walking-Dead-Volume-5Back with the third installment of my review on Robert Kirkman’s classic tale of the zombie apocalypse, and the AMC miniseries that bears its name. Last time, I got into volume 3 and 4, which became the basis of the series first half, or at least much of the material they covered. Today, I will be covering volumes 5 and 6, which manages to cover the rest of the material from the first half of season three… sort of.

I know, confusing! But as I’ve said before, the show’s producers and writers took some rather large liberties when it came to season three, most of which seemed to be the result of changes made to season two. With Shane only dying at the end of that season, and Andrea getting lost in the wilderness and separated from the pack, and Merle’s ongoing disappearing act, it was predictable that the parts of the story dealing with the prison and the Governor would also be handled differently.

Volume 5 – The Best Defense:
the-walking-dead-thebestdefenseThe new volume opens with Rick, Dale, and Tyreese performing a final sweep of the prison to make sure the last of the cell blocks is clear. Things are strained between Rick and Tyreese, but time seems to have healed the rift a little. Glenn and Maggie find them and tell them they found the armory, which is stocked full of guns and suits of riot gear.

Outside, they test the riot gear by doing a sweep outside of the walls. It proves effective and they managed to take out several Walkers with ease. Their sweep is interrupted when they hear a noise coming from overhead, but they are enthused when they learn that its coming from a passing helicopter. That changes when they realize that it’s crashing in the distance.

A scouting part is formed with Rick, Glenn and Michonne. They commandeer a car from the parkade and head out to search for the crash site. Back inside, Lori continues to worry about Carol’s odd behavior towards her. The two have taken to distributing books from the library and planning movie nights now that they have electricity and some DVDs.

the-walking-dead-choppercrashRick, Glenn and Michonne follow the smoke plume from the crashed chopper to a nearby forest. After their car gets stuck, they are forced to make the last of the leg on foot. When they finally come to the wreckage, they see several sets of footprints leading from the chopper, which means someone took the crew away. They begin to follow the tracks to a nearby town called Woodbury.

Back at the prison, Andrea and Dale talk to Allen’s two son’s – Ben and Billy – and let them know that they will be taking care of them from now on since both their mother and father have died. Lori’s fears are confirmed when Carol suggests a polyamorous relationship between her, Lori and Rick. She naturally shoots the idea down, and Carol storms away in anger.

the-walking-dead-thegovernorWhen Rick, Glenn and Michonne reach the town’s fence line, guns open fire and take out the Walkers pursuing them. They are pulled inside by a man named Martinez and other armed guards, and showed to a man called the Governor. He naturally wants to know who they are, and they lie and say they have been traveling.

He shows them around the town and explains they have a four block radius that is protected by walls, with intentions to expand of course. The highlight of the tour is a stadium where they have live gladiatorial-style fights, which involving Walkers. When Rick asks how they are keeping them alive – i.e. fed – the Governor tells them “Well stranger, we’re feeding them strangers.”

the-walking-dead-rickshandRick and the others are immediately taken captive, and the Governor tells them that the chopper crew is being cut up to be fed to the Walkers. The purpose of the games is to keep the peace, he says, as people need distractions and release. He demands to know where Rick and his party came from, where they got their armor, and to make his point, he chops off Rick’s right hand.

Michonne tackles him and bites off his ear, and the Governor orders her thrown in a cell so he can deal with her personally. Glenn is tossed in another cell and Rick is hauled to their resident doctor, who is clearly hostile towards him. He then goes to Michonne, who is conversing with her dead boyfriend, looking for strength, and proceeds to beat and rape her.

the-walking-dead-governor-headsRick wakes up in the infirmary, tackles the doctor when he comes in and the nurse if forced to sedate him. Finished with Michonne for the night, the Governor heads home and meets his daughter, a Walker that he is keeping alive. After feeding her parts from the chopper crew, he takes the heads and placing them in a tank where dozens of other Walker heads are suspended in water.

He then goes to Glenn and demands he tell them where they came from. When Glenn won’t reply, he goes back to Michonne’s cell and beats her terribly, making his listen. He then visits Rick next to get his ear patched up, and tells Rick that Glenn told him everything about the prison. He also says he let him go and plans to follow him back.

the-walking-dead-tyreesscoutingAt the prison, everyone continues to worry about Rick and the others. Carol attempts to comfort Lori, is once again brushed off. Tyreese puts on another riot suit and heads out to pick up their trail. When he returns, they are forced to drive out to get him and pull him inside. He tells them all he found their car, but there was no sign of them. Back at Woodbury, the Governor reveals that he was bluffing, and that Glenn is still in his custody.

Volume 6 – This Sorrowful Life:
the-walking-dead-6-This_Sorrowful_LifeWhile in the infirmary, Rick is told by Stevens – the doctor – that he wants to help him, but that they are both under guard. A fight between two gladiators and when stabs the other in the neck. The Governor tells Michonne that if she steps into the ring and gives the crowd a good show, he will give her a few days grace.

Michonne is takes to the field with her sword amidst a huge crowd and proceeds to very quickly decapitate her opponent and all the Walkers chained up around her. The crowd is incensed and the Governor orders taken back to her cell. Rick meanwhile befriends the nurse Alice and learns that she too would like to escape.

the-walking-dead-woodburyescapeThey get their wish when Martinez comes in and tells them he’s defecting, and they need to leave now if they are going to make it out. They find Glenn, whom Rick thought was dead, and learns that the Governor doesn’t yet know where the prison is. They make it to Michonne’s cell and free her too, and Alice and the doc join them.

They head for the wall and wait for Stevens to get some supplies from the infirmary, and Michonne tells them she needs to go visit the Governor and will catch up with them, or not. Once they make it over, doc Stevens is bitten and they are forced to shoot him and the Walker, thus alerting people inside the town. They begin to beat a hasty retreat, knowing they’ll have guards to worry about soon.

the-walking-dead-governor-remainsMichonne breaks into the Governor’s apartment and they begin to fight it out. She overpowers him quickly enough and then chains him up. As soon as he wakes up, she begin to go to work on him with a number of power tools. By the time his henchmen come to the door, Michonne has cut off his arm, removed his eye, sodomized him with a spoon, and removed his manhood. She then flees and catches up with Rick and the others, and refuses to talk about it.

They begin to proceed back to the prison and are attacked by multiple waves of Walkers. Luckily, they find their way back to their old car and drive the rest of the way. When they arrive, they find the front yard overrun by Walkers and fear the worst. The issue ends with a quick look over at Morgan and Duane, who are still in their old hometown and enjoying Christmas together.

the-walking-dead-issue35Glenn drives into the yard and crashes the car into the far wall. The other follow, forcibly cutting a path. Rick finds Otis’ reanimated corpse on the ground, and Alice runs to pull Glenn out of the wreck. Andrea and Dale emerge from the RV and begin to provide cover. The explain that the Walkers got in after Tyreese came back from looking for them, that Otis and Hershel were bit, and that the rest ran inside.

While Andrea and Martinez provide cover, Rick gets the front door open and lets them inside. Hershel is there to meet him and tells him he was wounded by “friendly fire”. Lori and Carl come to greet him and are shocked to see he lost his hand. Telling him to sit this one out, Tyreese leads the others outside to clear the rest of the yard.

the-walking-dead-martinezdiesNext day, they begin burning the Walkers, but Glenn asks them to stop long enough to fetch a wedding ring from one the bodies. Alice looks Lori over and determines that her pregnancy is coming along nicely and she is healthy. Aside from the death of Otis, everything seems fine. Until Rick learns that Martinez is missing, and suspects they’ve been had…

Rick grabs the RV and starts driving off alone to find him. Within minutes, he spots Martinez running across the field and rams the truck into him. While standing over his broken body, Martinez tells Rick he wanted to get his own people into the prison and away from the Governor. Rick tells him he doesn’t know what people are capable of, but Martinez replies that he’s beginning to see, and Rick chokes the last of his life out of him.

the-walking-dead-glennmaggie_marriedBack at the prison, Glenn asks Hershel’s permission to wed Maggie, which he agrees to. Maggie does too, and they decide to hold a wedding and let Hershel officiate. Rick returns and tells Lori how he killed Martinez and that he doesn’t know who he is anymore. He calls a meeting and tells everyone about Woodbury, the Governor, and how they need to prepare for their arrival…

Differences to AMC’s The Walking Dead:
Picking up where I left off last time, it should be clear to anyone at this point what the biggest divergence was at this point in the adaptation. Namely, Lori isn’t dead! Yes, by this point in the show, she was not only nine months but pregnant, but died in the delivery due to complications caused by one of the inmates (Andrew) who escaped and came back to cause trouble. Never happened! Moving on…

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The introduction to the Governor and Woobdury was also something that happened much quicker in the comic book, and didn’t involve a separate thread where Andrea and Michonne wandered in. What remained true to the spirit of the comic was the involvement of a crashed helicopter, which Andrea and Michonne tracked until they came upon the Governor’s own people. But beyond that, things happened very differently.

Also, the fights that the Governor stages were very different, with the version presented by the show being a rather benign affair where the Walkers had their teeth removed. The fact that Andrea approved of them seemed weird, but then again, so was her relationship with the Governor. Much like the feud between Shane and Rick, the way this tested her loyalties was something that I felt dragged out inexorably in season three.

WD3_dead_merleWhat’s more, when the two camps did come together in the form of the Governor taking some of the prison crew captive, it was Glenn and Maggie he grabbed in the show, not Glenn, Rick and Michonne. Instead of torturing and raping Michonne, the Governor instead threatened to rape Maggie while Glenn listened. But alas, he didn’t, nor did he chop anyone’s hands off. He still came off as cruel, but nowhere near as psychotic as he was in the comics.

In fact, vast efforts were made to humanize the Governor throughout the third season, which I did not understand. Many a time, it felt like the writers were trying to steer the audience back to seeing the good in him, like they couldn’t make up their minds as to whether he was truly crazy, or just hardened and redeemable. After the first few episodes, it seemed established that his outer persona of the benevolent Governor concealed his inner, psychotic self. Best to leave it at that and move on.

WD3_suffer_pennyAlso, Michonne’s disdain and hate for the Governor also seemed somewhat unjustified in the show since he never took her captive or abused her in the first place. This made the showdown scene with him later seem remarkably toned down and less justified. In the comics, she mutilated him horribly in revenge for torturing and raping her. But in the show, she kills his Walker daughter and stabs him in the eye because… she just never liked him. Way less convincing!

Another element which was missing here was Carol’s descent into quasi-madness. As I’ve said before, not having Tyreese or Sophia around left a big, gaping hole in her story. And some abortive romantic tension between her and Daryl really didn’t fill that void. Instead, she seemed to grow stronger and more confident, never really doing much, but still exuding a toughness that wasn’t there in her before.

WD3_dead_carolGlenn and Maggie’s courtship was adapted truly though. In the comics, as with the show, they truly came together once they began living in the prison. And faced with the prospect of death, they decided to make every moment count and got married. And of course, Hershel approved and officiated. In this one case, everything was by the book.

And of course, I could mention that so much of this depended on Merle, who in the show was practically the Governor’s right hand man. He was the one who captured Maggie and Glenn, tortured Glenn, and then tried to feed him to a Walker. At this point in the comics, Otis did die, but Axel was still alive, and of course Tyreese was part of the camp.

Summary:
In short, it seemed like at this point, the show’s writers were determined to keep things true to the spirit of the comic, if not the letter. But the changes were very vast and sweeping, and required them to seriously retool many plot elements. Also, as I mentioned, great pains were taken to create a sense of tension with regards to divided loyalties, with both Andrea and Merle, that never took place in the original.

While it seemed creative to bring Merle back into the fold by putting him in with their enemy, Andrea’s relationship with the Governor and the way she became torn with the whole “can’t we all get along” became very drawn out and tedious. And as more than one friend remarked to me, the way she kept trusting in the Governor and giving him the benefit of the doubt made her seem like a bit of an idiot.

But of course, much of this hadn’t come up yet and the show still seemed fresh in my mind. The biggest change was the fact that Lori had been killed off and Rick was beginning to lose it as a result. This called to mind how he began to lose it in the last volume when Carol nearly killed herself and he and Tyreese had their terrible fight. But again, this was a case of removing one thing and subbing another. Doesn’t seem true to the spirit of the story when you keep doing a cut and paste job like that…

One more installment to go before I’ve caught up to the show! I tell ya, I’m not sure what to expect out of season four, but I can tell you that it’s likely to be so widely divergent from the comics at this point that just about anything could be done. And that’s my problem, since I disapprove on the one hand, but am made more curious as a result.

Man, this is so much easier with Game of Thrones. By comparison, those people really stay on script!

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead – Part II

The_Walking_Dead_-_Safety_Behind_BarsWelcome back! In my last post, I was able to cover the first two volumes of the Walking Dead comic series and how they differed from the television adaptation. This took us to the end of season two of the show, as each volume became the basis of its own season. And as I might have mentioned, the series producers and writers made some serious changes, not the least of which had to do with the introduction or substitution of characters. But there’s another big change which I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention.

While the first season did a pretty good job of adapting the material from the comics – that is to say, succinctly with 6 episodes – season two took what was also a six-issue volume and expanded it to fill a full 13 episodes. Basically, this meant that they dragged things out inexorably to make it all fit. Aside from Shane’s ongoing presence, this included throwing some additional complications and events into the mix before Rick and the other finally moved on to the prison.

Their arrival and attempts to make a life at the prison was the basis of volume three of the comics and season three of the show. But whereas the show expanded on volume two to make their second season, they did the opposite with volumes three through eight, which covered the story involving the Governor, Woodbury, and the fight between his people and Rick’s.

Whether they simply glossed over certain events or chose to minimize certain story elements, the show’s producers and writers left an awful lot of material out, substituting it with their own for reasons which seemed to have more to do with inertia than fitting the requirements of television. And between myself and other fans of the comic book series, this seemed like a real let down.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here! First up, let’s take a look at the next few volumes and see how they compare to the show…

Volume 3 – Safety Behind Bars:
the-walking-dead_Volume_3-Safety_Behind_BarsThe series opens again with Rick and the others arriving at the prison, where he, Tyreese and Andrea begin clearing out the front yard of Walkers. With that done, they camp out in the RV inside the gate for the night and wait on morning to enter. Once they penetrate inside the first cell block, they are surprised to find survivors who barred themselves inside the cafeteria.

Everyone comes in to share in some food, and the supply situation appears to be abundant, which puts everyone at ease. But things get a little tense as Rick and the others realize that the survivors are not guards, but inmates. Rick explains what’s been going on in the outside world, something they have been oblivious to, and they recount what happened to the prison when the outbreak hit.

the-walking-dead-inmatesThe four inmates include Axel, an armed robber; Thomas, who claims his crime was tax fraud; Andrew, a former junkie; and Dexter, a man convicted of murder. After eating and doing their intros, Dexter agrees to show Rick and Tyreese around. This culminates in them going to the gym, which has its doors barred, and finding dozens of Walkers inside. Afterward, people partner up and take to different cells.

While burning the bodies in the front yard, Rick and the others notice a plume of smoke rising from down the road. Rick heads back to Hershel’s farm to find that they are also burning the bodies of Walkers. Glenn and Otis explain that with the weather turning, more attacks are coming, and Rick proposes that they relocate to the prison. Herschel agrees and apologizes for sending them out earlier.

the-walking-dead-juliedeadBack at the prison, Julie and Chris have sex for the first time and, in keeping with their pact, agree to kill each other. However, Chris fired too soon and killed Julie, leaving him alive. Tyreese is on the verge of killing him, but is stopped when his daughter comes back tries to bite him. Chris shoots her again and she dies. The last remaining truth about the virus is revealed…

Tyreese strangles Chris in a fit of rage and grief and burns both their bodies on the following day. After checking up on him to make sure he’s okay, Rick commandeers a motorcycle and drives off, saying he has something to take care of. Meanwhile, people at the prison begin to settle in while Tyreese, Andrea, Glenn and Billy work on clearing the gym. Things go well until they are surrounded,  and the others escape just as Tyreese is enveloped.

the-walking-dead-kidskilledWe then catch up to Rick, who has returned to where he buried Shane, and unearths him and finds that he too has turned. Rick explains that he now understands that the virus turns everyone once they’re dead, not just people who have been bitten. He tells him he had to come back to make things right and shoots him through the head. Back at the prison, Herschel looks for his two youngest daughters – Rachel and Susie – and finds their beheaded corpses in a cell!

Glenn is forced to deal with their remains as the heads come back to life, and news of their and Tyreese’s deaths spread and cause panic. Andrea and Lori grab their guns and lock Dexter, their chief suspect, in a cell with his companion Andrew. Emotionally distraught, Carol kisses Lori and apologizes. Rick returns to find things in chaos and returns with them to the gym where they find Tyreese exhausted but alive, lying amidst the corpses of dozens of Walkers. In the laundry room, Andrea is accosted by Thomas, who it turns out is the killer.

the-walking-dead-thomas_beatenIn the immediate aftermath, Rick and Herschel are distraught and blame themselves for his daughter’s deaths. Carol, relieved to see Tyreese alive and well, makes love to him on the gym floor while Axel try to clear the fence line of Walkers. They are all interrupted when Thomas chases Andrea out into the yard. Rick intervenes and beats Thomas to within an inch of his life. Rick decides that he must die, that “you kill, you die” is to be their system of justice from now on.

Rick lets Dexter and Andrew out of their cell, but the damage appears to have been done. Convinced that he and the others are not safe with Rick’s party, he tells Andrew to get some guns from the armory they’ve been keeping secret. The decision is made to hang Thomas, but Patricia (Otis’ girlfriend) tries to let him out of his cell, he becomes violent again, and Maggie is forced to shoot him. His remains are tossed outside the gate so Walkers can feed on them.

Dexter and Andrew enter the yard carrying shot guns, and he orders Rick at gunpoint to get “out of my house!”

Volume 4 – The Heart’s Desire:
the-walking-dead-Volume_4-The_Heart's_DesireThis volume opens with a rather important introduction – that of the character Michonne. While walking across the landscape, her two chained Walkers in tow, she hears gunshots. She sees Otis using Hershel’s horse-drawn cart to haul supplies to the prison, and firing off a rifle to keep Walkers by the side of the road back. Curious, she picks up his trail and begins to head for the prison as well.

Back at the prison, the stand-off between Dexter and Rick continues. It is interrupted when Walkers pour out of A Block, where Andrew took the guns from the armory, and a gunfight ensues. In the confusion, Rick shoot Dexter in the head. On the other side of the fence, Otis arrives and is nearly overrun, but Michonne arrives in time and saves him by lopping the heads off of Walkers with her katana sword.

the-walking-dead-michonneSending off a patrol to clear out the rest, Rick opens the gate and lets Otis and Michonne in. Andrew, distraught over the loss of his companion, runs out into the wilderness. Once again, things begin to return to normal, the people busying themselves between clearing the fence line of Walkers and using the yard to plant food. Dale and Tyreese also find the generator in the basement and realize they could have electricity.

Allen begins to recover from the trauma of losing Donna and joins Rick and the others as they conduct another sweep. However, he is bit on his Achilles heel when a Walker sneaks up on him, and Rick tells them to cut his foot off. Realizing that the virus is already in them, that everyone turns only after they die, he tells them they need to amputate and close the wound. With Hershel’s help, they manage to stop the bleeding and lay him to rest in a cell.

the-walking-dead_Michonne_TyreeseCarol is distraught when she hears of this and runs off to find Tyreese, who is in the gym trying to forget how things are going to hell. She arrived just in time to find him in the middle of an amorous encounter with Michonne. Glenn and Maggie, who’s courtship is growing, are away and oblivious to it all. And Andrea arrives in Michonne’s cell and hears her talking to someone, but no one else is there.

After catching him with Michonne, Carol becomes distraught and tells Tyreese to move out of their cell. Michonne takes him in and the two begin having a relationship of sorts. With Allen down, his boys begin to feel like they are about to lose him too, and Andrea and Herschel step in to look after them. After speaking to Lori about how he’s worried about Carol, Rick and Lori return to her cell to find that she has slit her wrists.

the-walking-dead-ricktyreesefightRick comes to Tyreese and Michonne’s cell and tells him about Carol, and blames him for it. The two get into a terrible fight during, they accuse each other of becoming  cold-blooded killers, and Rick falls over a rail and nearly cracks his skull. They are interrupted to learn that Allen has died from his wounds. Rick goes to his cell to shoot him to keep him from coming back, and then falls unconscious.

Rick wakes up to see Carol keeping watch over him. Having recovered from her self-administered cuts, she tells him she’s heard about how he confronted Tyreese for her, and proceeds to kiss him too. Dale shows up and tells Rick he needs to step back from being leader, and that a committee was formed that elected Tyreese to fill that role for the time being. Disheveled, tired and upset people are questioning him, Rick confronts them all and tells them how it is.

What follows is one of the most important and seminal speeches in the entire series. He tells them things have changed, that they will never go back to the way they were, and that killing is now the only way they will stay alive. He concludes it with the chilling words:

We’re surrounded by the dead. We’re among them, and when we finally give up, we become them. We’re living on borrowed time here. Every minute of our life is a minute we steal from them! …You think we hide behind walls to protect us from the walking dead! Don’t you get it! WE ARE THE WALKING DEAD!

walking-dead-rick

Differences to AMC’s The Walking Dead:
As already mentioned, many of the changes that took place in season three, which were adapted from these volumes, seemed to be motivated by inertia. Having strayed from the source material in season two, they were now obligated to find ways to tie it together with material from the next volumes to make it all work. But there was still some serious minimizing and exclusions which I really can’t see the logic in.

For starters, Tyreese’s and his daughters absence from the cast at this point meant that a ton of important plot developments were not usable. His daughter’s death, his killing Chris, his affair with Michonne and how it led to Carol’s attempted suicide, and his big fight with Rick. This last one was especially important, in that it demonstrated how both men were effectively being pushed over the edge by their situation.

WD3_prisonersSure, they found other ways to sneak some of the ideas in, but they were not nearly as effective in my opinion. What’s more, they did a total rewrite of the inmate crew. Instead of Dexter, Thomas, Andrew, and Axel, we got Tomas, Big Tiny, Oscar, Andrew and Axel, and their characters were switched up. Axel remained the trustworthy one of the group, but Tomas ended up merging Thomas and Dexter’s character into one short-lived bad guy who dies very quickly.

Rick killing him was true to the spirit of him murdering Dexter, but it was not nearly as dubious. And Andrew runs off in the book never to be heard from again, he doesn’t flee to go cause trouble down the road. Big Tiny and Oscar served no purpose either, being little more than stand-ins who also die pretty quick. And even Axel died off in the first half of season three. Once again, the term “highest paid extras” seems to apply!

wd2_sophiaAnd speaking of extras, the way they killed off Dale and Sophia in season two and – again! – left Tyreese out of the picture, meant that Carol’s character has effectively been reduced to a background person. Aside from flirting with Daryl, brushing Axel off, and popping in to help look after other people kids, she did very little in season three.

Oh, and Carl and Sophia also begin courting at this point in comic. But since she dies in season two of the show, they switch that romantic angle over to Carl and Beth, another character that doesn’t exist in the original. Yes, Herschel had several daughters – and four sons (one of whom was a Walker) – but none of them were named Beth.

Once again, some characters are dropped and other subbed in inexplicably. Oh, and you may think that Allen’s absence from the script may be the reason Herschel lost his leg in season three, but you’d only be half right. In truth, the amputation Herschel endured was reminiscent of a different character losing a foot, which comes up later. Yep, two amputations in one story!

WD3_michonneMichonne’s introduction was also vastly different. Instead of finding Andrea in the wilderness and traveling to Woodbury with her, thus introducing both the town and Governor far sooner than took place in the comics, she shows up at the front gate of the prison and integrates with them quite quickly. Sure, they managed to capture her badassery in the show, but they completely glossed over her rich inner life, which included vulnerability and the fact that she’s also fighting to maintain her sanity. Some of this would be covered later, but in a very topical, in-passing kind of way.

Ah, and let’s not forget how Merle was part of the Governor’s crew, which was their way of reintroducing him after his departure in season one and explaining his whereabouts. This provided another connection between the two camps and a tie-in for a character that wasn’t in the original story. And this was one change I saw the value in, as it laid the groundwork for an eventual clash of loyalties for the Daryl family and was a chance for more character development.

Summary:
At this point, I have to say that reading the comics has diminished my opinion of the show, which is exactly what I was afraid of! While I didn’t like season two much, I was a fan of season three right until that unsatisfying ending (more on that later). But now… between the way they chose to leave certain characters out, thus decapitating much of the story, and introduce different characters who are promptly killed off, I have to say I really don’t get what they were thinking.

Sure, the obvious explanation is budgets. But that argument falls flat when you consider that they dropped some leading characters in favor of ones they invented themselves. For the cost of  Daryl and Merle – aka. Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker, both very talented actors! – they totally could have afforded a solid actor to play Tyreese as well as two perfectly decent teen actors to play Julie and Chris.

Of course, I can see the reason for keeping Shane around. Between the actor and the character, they felt they had something with him and didn’t want to lose that. But the early termination of Dale and Sophia is another matter. In Dale’s case, his relationship with Andrea was an important aspect of the plot, as was Sophia’s with Carl. Their deaths I can only assume were a matter of conflicts or money, as no other explanation seems to make sense.

WD3_governor_endBut alas, the best is yet to come. As volumes 5 and 6 begin, we are introduced to the Governor and the seeds of the prison versus Woodbury confrontation are sown. And trust me when I say, compared to what the miniseries did with it, the comics version was far more interesting, and bloody! Stay tuned!