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The Heart's Desire: The Walking Dead Vol. 4    by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn order for
Heart's Desire
by Robert Kirkman
Order:  USA  Can
Image Comics, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

The Walking Dead series stands out as more than just zombie comics. It's a post-apocalyptic tale of human survival in a world that has fallen prey to zombies. And though the series suffers the occasional cliché, the storyline thus far has evolved into an amazing tale of mystery, intrigue, and adventure.

In a bitter irony that haunts Rick, his family and the others who have come to follow him find themselves taking sanctuary in a prison. With fortified surroundings, weapons, and a decent food supply, prison seems like the perfect retreat from the zombies. However, after a house-cleaning of living corpses within the prison, they must also contend with live humans who don't want visitors. An attempted negotiation of Rick and his group's presence leads to bloodshed. After leading his band of survivors for so long, Rick feels the pressure mounting. With each zombie killed and each friend lost, Rick becomes more and more unstable and an ultimate confrontation between him and his band about how they should continue ensues.

With respect to the overall story's progression, this graphic novel lays out a new law of the land. The tension and stress that Rick has managed to subdue gets the best of him and he becomes more loveable as a protagonist, as he battles his inner demons. The end result leaves readers drooling for the next installment. Like any good tale of the macabre, the black and white style of this series darkens the mood as well as visually drawing contrast between zombies and humans. The action revolves around human-to-human fights just as much as battles with the zombies. The tension seethes through every panel and when people snap, bones are broken and blood is drawn. The use of full page or large panels sucks in the reader to the emotional boiling point of the story.

Zombies seem to be back in style in the last few years. Cinematically, upwards of forty zombie films have been released in the last five years and several comic book publishers are running zombie series (or reprints). That's a lot of dead corpses staggering about. Though some of these provide new (albeit small) insights, The Walking Dead offers something altogether different and better. While there is the occasional cliché (after all, the zombie narrative is already well-established), the series prides itself on the length and breadth of storylines, showing the many predicaments this band of humans must contend with in order to survive.

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