The Walking Dead – Image Comics
Written by Robert Kirkman
Art: Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn
For those who aren’t in the know, The Walking Dead is a series created and written by Robert Kirkman following the life and survival of Officer Rick Grimes, a small town cop from Cynthiana, Kentucky. He awakes from a coma to find his town and the rest of country in disrepair, over run by flesh-eating zombies, with very few living survivors of whatever caused this waking nightmare world. His primary mission is to find his family and survive in a world that can only be described as Hell on Earth. He eventually becomes the leader of a group of survivors, as the group grows (and shrinks) more challenges and problems develop.
This is one series that has been staring me down for awhile. I had read the first few issues, and continued accumulating the rest of the series without getting around to reading them for one reason or another. Before you know it the I have 49 issues staring me in the face. So I read’em all between Saturday thru Monday. I’d read some of Kirkman’s work for Marvel including his Marvel Team-Up issues which I loved, and his work with Marvel Zombie which was indifferent towards. That indifference turned to hatred when Marvel went waaaay overboard with the Marvel Zombie covers, inclusion of the superhero zombies in other storylines, it was too forced and annoying to me. When one loses count of all the Marvel Zombie alternative covers when going through the convention floors last year, you know its getting ridiculous.
Anyway, my aversion to zombies and my undecided opinion on Kirkman had me hesistant on the series. I’d picked up issues knowing it was well received but hadn’t cracked them open until more recently. I was motivated when I saw how much my pal Fred was enjoying the series, he really wanted to know my opinion on the series. So after a few late nights of reading the series 15-20 issues at a time, I’m caught up. I suffered through some nightmares at night since this was the last thing on my mind before bedding down. But I gotta tell you l like this title a lot.
Right off the bat this book benefits from having a consistent writer. Which is one of the blessings of a creator-owned property. All the characters retain their voices and personalities through the storyline which is great as the we have an artist change early in the series and the characters all undergo some appearance changes as time goes on. I love the fact that this isn’t a book about the zombies, not much time is spent at all figuring out why they are here. The story is about surviving in a world where the zombies are but one more thing to deal with in addition to living without law, without services, finding food through hunting or scavenging, finding secure shelter to protect yourself from zombies or other groups of survivors that might want to take what you’ve got. Kirkman deals with the psychological impact of suddenly being alone in the world, the effect watching family members die in front of you can have on a human being, and how little time it takes to adapt to a kill or be killed mentality while trying to maintain some level of civilization.
This books can often be violent, and gruesome. The art my Tony Moore and then by Charlie Adlard is clear in displaying the brutality of the action. I confess to being more of a fan of Tony Moore’s work, but Adlard is more then capable. It’s just a personal preference of style on my part. The writing is much more sophisticated then Kirkman’s efforts for Marvel. This is a horror comic in some senses of the word, but the zombies aren’t the only monsters. Often the monsters that are feared or need control are those within the human survivors. If ever there were a book that deserved the phrase “No one is safe”, this book is most deserving. I learned not to get too attached to anyone in this story. Everyone is fair game in this story, death doesn’t care how much of a lead character you are or how long you’ve been in the book.
I recommend this series very highly. For those who don’t want to scrounge through the back issue bins the story so far has been collected into multiple volumes in both hardcover and paperback.