Title: The Walking Dead Compendium Chapter #3 – Safety Behind Bars
Written by: Robert Kirkman
Art by: Robert Kirkman, Cliff Rathburn & Charlie Adlard
Published by: Image Comics
Release Date: May 19th 2009
Not only can you get your hands on The Walking Dead: A New Frontiers fourth episode this week. Thenerdstash.com is also bringing to you a review of the third chapter of The Walking Dead’s first compendium. When discussing the previous chapter I said, “Overall Miles Behind Us is a solid chapter. The group finally found a place of solace and many characters developed due to the grief they felt.” Chapter three, Safety Behind Bars, sees the group find a home in an abandoned prison. However, it isn’t smooth sailing the entire time. While growing accustomed to their new sanctuary, the group deals with some heavy themes and try to draw out a killer amongst their own group.
The beginning of the chapter sees the group surveying the prison, splitting off into groups, with some clearing the grounds of Walkers and other checking out the rest of the area. Despite the optimism Rick has for this new location, heavy conversations are held between characters. The first conversation of note is one that is had between Lori and Carol. Where they discuss whether the world is better now or before.
Lori tells Carol, “Before – – you would always hear “live life like every day could be your last.” As if that would make you live life to its fullest and make you a happier person. I’m living life like every day could be my last – – And it’s horrible. I’ve seen too much death.”
Lori even in this moment of quiet highlights how in this new world, everyone must always live on the edge. However, Carol adds that for her personally, life has improved since society fell to ruin. Showing that there can be sound hope amongst the chaos. “I’ve almost got things better now – – Tyreece is better than my husband ever was.
Others in the group don’t blatantly say whether their lives have changed for the better or the worse. But rather accept the world for what it is and make peace. The main theme of this chapter seems to be acceptance. Whether characters make light of the situation or make their peace with the truths of the world solemnly, they accept and then move forward.
To convey this idea in a minor way, amongst a camp fire Rick makes light of the idea of killing Walkers. “Yeah, hopefully, it’s just full of flesh eating monsters and our baked beans are still intact in there. If someone had said last year that I would ever litter that line out loud…. I’d still be laughing now.”
Amongst other examples we find, Julie and Chris, accepting their fate in this damned world and attempting to commit a suicide pact. Which inevitably goes wrong and leads to Chris killing Julie, and Tyreece strangling Chris to death. Tyreece then in a crazed fit is almost killed while attempting to clear out some walkers. He releases his pent up grief upon the Walkers, accepts what has happened and then moves on. Rick having learned that everyone in the world is infected with the Walker virus returns to the grave of Shane, digs him up to find him now zombified, and shoots him. He makes peace with what happened between them and leaves Shane behind forever. Rick also makes peace with Hershel, as they both accept what happened between them in the previous chapters, and move forward, with Hershel’s family coming to live with the others within the prison.
Allen after being grief-stricken to the point of madness in the previous chapter also makes peace with the world and his children. Finally coming to terms with the inevitably of death within this new world. “We’re all going to die. We have to get used to that. We have to be ok with that – – we have to expect it, welcome it. Because if we don’t – – it will hurt us… a lot.”
Besides the idea of acceptance, the chapter has a mini-story involving the group’s interaction with the prisons original residents. Four prisoners survived the riots that ravaged the area and managed to survive during the following months. Initially, the group is wary of some of them. In particular, Lori, who it out for Dexter, who was convicted of murder, from the get go. Later in the chapter when Hershel’s two youngest daughters are startlingly found, decapitated, Dexter is the prime suspect. Despite pleading his innocence, Lori and Dale aggressively and uncompromisingly lead Dexter to a cell at gunpoint. Where he is interrogated and threatened by the group for the remainder of the investigation. It is at this point that Dexter and another inmate Andrew decide to take the prison back from Rick and the others. Realizing that despite their open arms and attempt at hospitality, Rick and the others have clearly gone insane from life in the outside world, and can no longer be trusted.
It is eventually revealed that prison inmate Thomas is the killer after he threatens Andrea with a knife. Upon this realization amongst the rest of the group, Rick enters a fit of rage and beats Thomas to the verge of death. Thomas is then later killed by Maggie as he tries to escape and is thrown to the Walkers as food. Once again the theme of acceptance is highlighted as Hershel watches Thomas’ corpse be devoured, accepts the death of his daughters, and walks away. However, all is not resolved. The other prison inmates have looted the dead prison guards of their riot gear, and hold Rick and his family at gunpoint, ordering them to leave.
Safety Behind Bars, as a chapter moves the group forward. Plenty of obstacles are put in their way, and the chapter is fraught with death and surprise. But Rick and his group are finally beginning to realize and accept the truths of this world. Even behind the safety of walls, fences, and guns, death is inevitable.
- Shocking Surprises
- Strong Themes
- Some characters seemingly get away with things while others don't. Seems odd.