Life After the Zombie Apocalypse is Nasty, Brutish, and Short—Or Is It?
The Walking Dead, Compendium 3 collects comics #97-144, the same comics collected in volumes 17-24. As you can see, it’s quite a bit fatter than the first and second compendiums, despite collecting the same number of volumes.
MILD SPOILERS THROUGHOUT
It’s impossible to discuss almost 50 issues without getting just a little spoilery. I promise I won’t give away any more than necessary. Three is the best of the compendiums. Compendium One was frequently The Walking Dead at its best but a little uneven. Compendium Two suffered from The Walking Dead’s long post-Governor malaise. The Walking Dead has always been better with a villainous focus. It is, after all, at its core about the human heart in conflict with another human heart (which is slightly more Faulknerian than the human heart in conflict with the zombie heart). Or at least that is where it is most effective. The Walking Dead certainly isn’t, to my chagrin, about a fight against nature for survival (but put us city boys in the woods with no one to hand us food and we’d struggle mightily). The human heart in conflict with itself stuff is often very good in isolation, but it has never managed to give the story the same narrative force as squaring off against a big foe.
Compendium Three picks up shortly after the introduction of the Saviors and introduces Negan (and Lucille), who makes the Governor look like a pansy (and has a better sense of humor). Thus begins a conflict that will span most of the compendium and get very, very bloody. It’s the first compendium set in “civilization,” with the main characters never wandering without a base. It appears at this point that we have permanent communities. It also features a long jump in time (roughly two years later). The comic finally admits to the realities of time. The survivors are now riding horses and have settled into a quasi-normal life. This, and the compendium, last just long enough to set up a new grand foe.