The Walking Dead Vol. 3: Safety Behind Bars
written by Robert Kirkman
illustrated by Charlie Adlard
Image Comics (2005)
At the end of Volume 2, Rick Grimes and what remained of his get-along gang had left Atlanta in search of safer ground from the zombie hordes, and had discovered an abandoned prison. But, as Volume 3 begins, it turns out the prison isn't entirely abandoned. Once inside they find four people remaining--prison inmates, no less.
Tensions mount despite the new barrier in place between them and the zombies outside, as one prisoner admits to murdering his wife for cheating on him. The group stays and starts to make themselves at home behind bars, sorting out supplies and bedding arrangements, clearing out the dead and undead from the unoccupied areas of the prison. Rick even travels back to the farmhouse they'd left to encourage Hershel and his family to join them and turn the prison into a community, pooling their resources.
But, threats loom.
Despite the iron bars, concrete walls, and barbed-wire fences, the zombies are still everywhere, and everyone has to stay on their toes since warm weather is returning and the things seem to be getting a little more active. Then there is the whole shacked up with convicts dilemma. Plus, Tyreese's daughter and her boyfriend are still plotting something behind everyone's back and see the prison as the perfect place to carry it out.
The characters ring true on just about every page, though some of the dialogue is tiresome with its exposition and info-dumping. The motivations and conflicts between many of the characters feel genuine, and once again the dread of bad things to come germinates with them rather than the shambling corpses that surround them. The backdrop of a prison has been used in a lot of different movies and books, but this had its own vibe and felt brand new.
But, holy moly, is it bleak. Robert Kirkman et al show no remorse and just when you catch of whiff of contentment or happiness, the rug is pulled and the horrors awaiting them are even more gruesome than the last time. I loved this book, and feel kind of guilty for it, because the story as a whole is still so depressing. The characters persevere, however, and I'm looking forward to what lays in wait for them in the fourth volume.