The Walking Dead Volume 2: Miles Behind Us
written by Robert Kirkman
illustrated by Charlie Adlard
Image Comics (2004)
After reading the first volume, Days Gone Bye, in the wake of the fanfare over the TV series, I came to appreciate Kirkman's approach to the Romero-esque zombie, even though I didn't find the story to be terribly different from other zombie tales I've read or viewed. In the series' second volume, Miles Behind Us, it becomes more clear how Kirkman is differentiating his franchise and how it is shaping up to be a genuine gem. In other words, I find myself hopping on the bandwagon.
Rick, the sheriff who woke from a coma in the first book to find himself hip-deep in a zombie apocalypse, has been reunited with his wife Lori and their son Carl. The bad news is that they, and the motley crew of survivors they're traveling with are getting low on supplies and need to move on from the outskirts of Atlanta to find a safer place to make camp--possibly to call home. The nerves and emotions are already frayed on most everyone in the group, especially after Rick's best friend went homicidal, after starting a relationship with Lori in Rick's absence only to see it disintegrate once Rick returned.
To make matters worse, it's winter, and I wouldn't have guessed Atlanta to be a place that attracts much snow, but they sure have a fair bit to contend with while trying to traverse the roads and stay warm at night in their crowded RV. A lot of twists and roadblocks, both literal and proverbial, are thrown in their path, but all of it feels organic, not the least bit contrived despite the fact they are in a wasteland of the walking dead. They are joined by a trio of stragglers, Tyreese and his teen daughter and her ill-tempered boyfriend. Their presence throws a whole new dynamic into the mix, and seems to setup something surprisingly ominous in later volumes.
The mere story of wandering a zombified Georgia landscape is enough to satisfy the most ravenous readers, looking for zombie action, since there is plenty of them to shoot, smash, and slice. But it's the whole interplay and development of each character and the relationships that grow between them that is where the real draw for this series resides. This second volume exemplifies that, and I'm officially a fan of the series now, eager to sit down and watch the televised adaptation (should be able to borrow the first season on DVD relatively soon).
There is a great pseudo-cliffhanger to the end of the book, which has me keen on diving into the third volume and seeing where this lot ends up--and who will survive.