The Walking Dead: Compendium Three, by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, and Cliff Rathburn — a comic book review

In July 2019, Robert Kirkman ended The Walking Dead comic book at issue #193. The long-running comic ended with neither warning nor fanfare. The story just ended. I don’t know how yet, so don’t spoil it for me.

The fact that the comic ended is good news, for a couple of reasons. First, by having a definite ending to the story, anyone who feels any shame for reading something called a comic book can honestly call this one a graphic novel. The 193-issue run is a complete story with a beginning, middle, and ending.

Personally, I’m not ashamed of reading comic books, and think it’s funny when someone refers to an on-going publication, such as Action Comics maybe, as a “graphic novel.” Preacher was a graphic novel. Watchmen was a graphic novel. Now, The Walking Dead is a graphic novel.

The second reason this is good news is solely for acknowledged completists, such as myself. By purchasing the final Compendium, number four, I will have collected the entire story of TWD. I haven’t purchased it yet, although I did tell my wife she might be getting it for me for my birthday or Christmas. It is already in print.

Otherwise, the news of this book ending was sad news. This has been a special comic book and will still be talked about decades from now, after both Robert Kirkman and I are members of the Nonambulatory Dead.

The Walking Dead: Compendium Three includes issues #97 – 144, or volumes 17 – 24, if you’re keeping track that way.

Lots of stuff happens in this collection. I stopped watching the television series at the end of Season 8. I plan to get back to watching it at some point. It’s been renewed for Season 11, and, if rumors are to be believed, the show itself may be ending after Season 12.

On the other hand, I just learned that Danai Gurira, who plays Michonne, has left the television series. This is after Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) left the series, and Lauren Cohan (Maggie Rhee) left and came back after her new series was cancelled. I know I will watch the shows I’ve missed on this hiatus, but it’s become difficult to get excited about it.

This compendium goes past the end of Season 8. I’ve never experienced the Whisperers on television yet, so this comic book was my first exposure. They are genuinely creepy, especially Alpha. The collection ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, making the reader deal with more character deaths. I’m not going to ruin anything for those of you who haven’t read this story. I don’t know if the television series has dealt with this at all, or if they are even going to. But, one of the deaths was kind of a shocker to me. Especially piled on top of the main character deaths I already expected, after watching the television series.

The bulk of the rest of the compendium deals with the threat of Negan and his Saviors, and the all-out war after the other known settlements unite with the Alexandrians to confront Negan.

While my memory is suspect, it didn’t feel like the overall story in the comics was significantly different from what I watched on television. There are some characters who are dead on the series but not in the comic book, such as Andrea and Carl (sorry: spoilers!) and Sophia. And, of course, certain television characters such as Daryl Dixon and Carol don’t really exist in the comic at all. Beyond that, the big movements in the comic book seemed to match what I saw on television. Abraham and Glenn both died in the comic as well as on the series. In the comic book, only Glenn gets the Lucille treatment, though. Abraham dies with an arrow in his eye, the way another character died on the AMC series. Dead is dead, however it happens. The end result seems the same.

Without ruining anything else for you, I want to add that, at the end of this compendium, Carl is still alive. I know there is a vocal contingent out there who aren’t Carl fans, but I like that Rick and Carl Grimes are both still alive as this book comes to an end.

I enjoyed the writing in this collection, of course. And I suspect that Charlie Adlard’s artwork is being used for storyboards on the television series. Adlard tells the story visually in stark black-and-white, in nearly a minimalist fashion. There is little clutter in the artist’s renderings, no distractions from what is important to tell the story.

This is the good stuff, though. If you haven’t already read Kirkman’s masterful work, I’d suggest you begin with Compendium One. Compendium Three, however, has been my favorite to date.

Firewater’s The-Fastest-Way-to-a-Man’s-Heart-is-Through-His-Vagina Report Card: A+ All the way.

In case the vagina quote didn’t clue you in, this ain’t no kiddie book. Parents, make sure you’re reading what your children are reading. Kids, break the rules: that’s what you’re supposed to do.

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