Walking Dead 7: The Calm Before -- compelling, pitiless zombie comic

I've written about Kirkman, Adlard and Rathburn's comic The Walking Dead here before, I know, but I've just finished the seventh collection in the series, "The Calm Before," and I now can't get to sleep. The energy of this zombie comic is just amazing -- relentless, pitiless in its insistence on drawing characters that we truly care about and then destroying them, hobbling them, putting them into situations that there's no answer to.

The survivors of the zombie uprising in The Calm Before try to build a life within the prison they've set up shop in, but they're too scarred by the horrors they've witnessed (and perpetrated) to ever really come to anything like normal. Plus there's the zombies outside the fence, and the possibility of sociopathic loonies from the next town over raiding them, and the impending baby, and the survivor's guilt that gnaws at them when the fighting stops...

It's the pacing, more than anything, the "things get worse" storytelling, that makes this series so freaking compelling that I find myself writing about it in the middle of the night rather than going to bed. It's the secret formula for dramatic tension: characters we careabout, trying intelligently to solve their problems, and ending up in worse trouble through no fault of their own. It's deceptively simple to describe, the devil to pull off, and here it is, in spades. Link to Volume 6, Link to Volume 5, Link to Volume 4, Link to Volume 3, Link to Volume 2, Link to Volume 1

See also:
Walking Dead: scary, engrossing zombie comic
Walking Dead volume six: scary zombie comic gets even better


  1. I’m really happy you like this comic – I’ve been reading it since it first came out (I’m only missing issues #1 and maybe a couple of others), and it’s been great to see it get the attention it deserves.

    Too bad about Kirkman’s Wolf Man comic, though. Not too good.

  2. I love Walking Dead so much.

    So much that I had to stop reading it. I got so depressed and yet so compelled by the story of it. I just had to stop. It’s THAT good.

    Maybe on a super bright sunny day I will get 6 & 7 and then rent Caddyshack and play that while I’m reading WD.

  3. This should be made into an HBO series, shot with the gritty looks of “Band of Brothers.”

    Amazing it’s written by Robert Kirkman who did “Battle Pope!”

  4. Hands down one of my favorite comics since I was a kid. It [with a few other series/graphic novels] has made me excited about comics again.

  5. Oh man. . . “Battle Pope” was fantastic. . . and when I’d first started reading “Walking Dead” I didn’t realize that it was by the same fellow. I’m just glad I’m not the only guy that read “Battle Pope”.

    Anyway. . . . that’s an interesting idea, though, about potentially turning these books into a series. I think that it could work. We’ll have to see how well they do with “Preacher” first, though. . . .

  6. Walking Dead is one of the best comics out there right now.

    When I first heard about it, I said “Hrmm, another Zombie book…but the zombies are just backdrop to the bigger human struggle – and struggle these characters do. Kirkman is unflinching in his vision and it has served the books well. With its stark black and white delivery, it gives the stories a more ominous tone, even during the lighter scenes.

    If you dig WD, there are three other books you should check out: Ex Machina, The Exterminators and Fables. Each of these titles are superior in story telling and art.


  7. I’m loving Walking Dead, looking forward to the next issue which should be out any day now.

    I agree with Leaking Geek’s recommendations above and would like to add DMZ, Y – The Last Man and maybe also American Virgin to those.

  8. If you want a similar feel but in book format, George R R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is amazing. Martin has an uncanny ability to create characters you care for and then just keep hitting them with horrible things – all the while you keeps saying “it can’t get any worse” but it does. All the while you CAN NOT stop reading.

    It takes place in a fantasy world but he really minimizes the fantastic elements – it is more political intrigue and family issues than sword and sorcery.

  9. I created an account just to comment on this. Walking Dead is one of the best graphic novels I’ve ever read. It’s sort of depressing when you get through a new issue and realize there’s nothing else out there to read that even comes close. I’d love to see HBO make it a series, as I think they’re the only ones who could do it correctly.

  10. Walking Dead is fabulous, I’m reading it monthly through “non-orthodox methods” because it’s not published in my country and I’m buying one TPB every time I order books from amazon. I strongly recommend also Fables, one of the best on-going comics series.

    I agree with Redux, A Song of Ice and Fire series is amazing. I downloaded the PDF of the first three books last year and I couldn’t not buy them all (in English, because the Italian publisher split every volume in two 8.5€-each books and the translations suck)… those book reconciled me with the genre after too many disappointments.

  11. I can’t sing the praises of this comic highly enough. Walking Dead, DMZ and Fall of Cthulhu are the only comics I really follow any more. I miss the artist they had on the earlier issues of WD but otherwise I have absolutely nothing but love for it. This is a must-read for any comic book or horror fans out there.

  12. Crap. While I was commenting here DC and Marvel cracked down on all the comics torrents sites; I’m seriously pissed off now. I think that Fables: Wolves will be my last TPB ever, I don’t think that DC or Marvel’s executives read BoingBoing, but if they do, and they’re reading here, go **** **********

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