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