Recommendation: The Walking Dead Volumes 1 & 2
Author: Robert Kirkman
Illustrator: Tony Moore (Vol. 1), Charlie Adlard (Vol. 2)
I’m not trying to scare anybody. If that somehow happens as a result of reading this comic, that’s great, but really… that’s not what this book is about. … To me the, the best zombie movies aren’t the splatter fests of gore and violence with goofy characters and tongue in cheek antics. Good zombie movies show us how messed up we are, they make us question our station in society…and our society’s station in the world. They show us gore and violence and all that cool stuff too… but there’s always an undercurrent of social commentary and thoughtfulness.
The above is an excerpt from Robert Kirkman’s introduction to volume one of The Walking Dead. In this series, Kirkman spits in the face of the stigma that comics are junk reading made purely for rotting the minds of children. This is a socially aware commentary on the human disposition and our ability as a species to survive, or crack under the pressure.
The story begins with Rick Grimes. Rick is a police officer. In the very first scene he was shot on the job and put into a coma. When he wakes up the world he knew is gone and you as the reader tensely explore with him as he discovers the horrifying new world that has taken its place. The hospital is empty. There is no nurse to help him from his coma bed. There is no one to welcome him back to consciousness but a hoard of dead flesh-eating zombies.
Rick desperately tries to survive the insanity and find his family. He luckily stumbles upon a group of survivors who have made a little camp outside of Atlanta. There the true plot of the story takes off. While tensions stay high with the constant threat of “walkers” being around every corner, further stress is added by how physically, mentally, and emotionally draining it is for this group of people to live like this – out of Rvs and tents in the woods, never knowing which one of them will be the next to be picked off or when their supplies will run out.
By volume two they have realized that they can’t stay in this makeshift campsite of a home any longer. They hit the road in search of some sort of safe haven. This proves difficult and their nerves fray even further. People desperately look for comfort in one another’s arms – sex and mad outbursts of fury seemingly their only outlets of their frustrations. While Kirkman has probably nailed the completely realistic human reaction to such a life of survival – it does make a rather repetitive story. One character or another is constantly doing one of the following: killing, dying, yelling, or having sex. Even through all the repetitiveness, though, there are still plenty of shocking moments that will make whoever is sitting in the room with you as you read wonder why you keep randomly making exclamations of “holy crap!” and “no freaking way!”
Artistically speaking volume one puts the graphic in graphic novel. If Tony Moore was going for the shock affect to get the reader morbidly sucked into the story from the beginning – it worked. In fact I actually preferred the art in book one over that of Charlie Adlard’s volume two. The graphic images in volume two were slightly more toned down – but then that could be because the focus had shifted to the more character-driven side of story. Cliff Rathburn was used in both volumes to add additional gray tones, which truly blend the feel of the art to the feel of the story.
For some reason or other this was a series I had always over looked. Even though zombies are classified in the top tier of my coolest things ever list, for some reason I just kept thinking I’d get around to reading it later. Then the TV show appeared on the scene to raving reviews and acceptance. While this was an exciting new television prospect, no comic nerd wants to begin a television show without reading the book first.
So I did what it seems like a lot of people decided to do – I picked up volume one (issues 1-6). After volume one I watched episode one. I was immediately hooked on both versions of the story in a “why am I watching this? / I can’t seem to make my hand away from my gaping mouth” kind of way. I have decided that I will be continuing both series. As I read I will consistently post on the progression of the story every few volumes. This is a perfect time to begin this series. I hope others will be doing the same and continue in their reading along with me.
Review by Jackie Krah