Walking Dead vol 16: A Larger World

The sixteenth collection of the astounding graphic novel series The Walking Dead, A Larger World, is recently published, and the creators continue to vindicate my decision to follow this one for years and years and years. As I wrote of the 15th volume, The Walking Dead has sucked me in through several narrative techniques: it opened with the action-packed violence of the zombie outbreak; settled into a long run of stories in which hope dwindled away by a thousand cuts, leaving me in a kind of eternal misery for the plucky, flawed heroes I'd come to love; and has finally moved into a kind of twisted glimmer of hope, though there's still no guarantee that hope won't be cruelly snatched away.

Kirkman has spent his years of zombie storytelling to go to a place where few writers have dared — a story of a kind of zombie cold war, where zombies move from being "problems" to being "facts." These books are populated by scarred and wildly imperfect people who are trying very, very hard to do the right thing, and even when the reader can foresee their upcoming disaster, it's easy to understand why an intelligent person in the characters' shoes would take the awful course of action. This is horror without the idiot plots, without the "let's split up and run to different secluded places" tropes, in which bad guys and good guys are all all-to-believable. It's the only kind of horror that can really sustain itself at this length, and it's a marvel.

If you haven't been reading The Walking Dead, you're in for a treat. There are a series of omnibus editions in fat hardcover, or the 16 trade paperbacks (with an ominous-looking seventeenth due in December).

I've only seen a couple episodes of the TV show based on these comics, but I get the impression that they're pretty good on the action stuff, but not so great on the idiot plots, full of people whose "solutions" to their problems are the human version of flies who batter themselves to death smashing into the same pane of glass over and over again. Rest assured, that's not what you'll find in the comics.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 16: A Larger World