Newest Review: ... Kirkman in the introduction. "I always want to know what happens next. The idea behind The Walking Dead is to stay with the character... more
The Dead Walk!
The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye - Tony Moore
Member Name: Jake Speed
The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye - Tony Moore
Advantages: Good comic
Disadvantages: Art is a bit cartoonish in places
The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye is the first part of an ongoing comic book series by Robert Kirkman and was published in this collected format in 2004. You get the first six issues here. The comic is critically acclaimed and famous for spawning a popular television series of the same name by Frank Darabont (before they fired him anyway). The television series is sometimes criticised for being too slow and not having enough zombie carnage but that's the whole point of the comic. It's more about the human characters. How they interact and survive. How they cope with the knowledge that the world will never be the same again and that their relatives and friends are gone. It's all about the group dynamic and how very different people will adjust to suddenly having to live and work to survive with relative strangers in an unimaginable crisis. Who is going to be in charge? How is that person going to be chosen? Charismatic authority? The strongest? The most intelligent? Zombies are always lurking on the fringes of course and will strike when the opportunity presents itself in their usual shambling manner. No running zombies here I'm glad to say. Slow, walking pace zombies are much scarier. By their very nature they will catch you off guard at some point and you may end up as lunch! The Walking Dead is of course yet another in an endless line of riffs on the classic (original) trilogy of undead horror pictures by the great George A Romero. I'm surprised actually that it took this long for someone to come up with the idea of doing a proper zombie comic in the style of those films. "For me the worst part of every zombie movie is the end," says Kirkman in the introduction. "I always want to know what happens next. The idea behind The Walking Dead is to stay with the character for as long as is humanly possible." So in the Walking Dead series you to get to follow the characters over several volumes as they try to survive in a post-apocalyptic landscape rife with shuffling lumbering lurching flesh eating zombies.
The central character in the comic is Kentucky sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes. At the beginning of the story Grimes is shot in the chest in the line of duty while working with his partner Shane. He groggily wakes up in hospital a month later after emerging from a coma and calls out for a nurse. When there is no response whatsoever from anyone he dresses himself and ventures out into the corridor to look for some staff. He soon realises the hospital is completely deserted. Apart from dead people and zombies that is. He somehow manages to escape from the nightmarish blood splattered hospital and realises that the outside world is just as desolate and seems to be inhabited only by the walking dead. It's the end of the world as we know it. The zombie apocalypse has happened. I welcome the zombie apocalypse with open arms myself. I'm going to fortify the local Sainsburys and live on jumbo bags of posh crisps. Anyway, the new landscape poses some immediate questions. Has civilisation collapsed entirely? Rick manages to get home but finds that his house has been looted and his wife Lori and son Carl have long since gone just like everyone else in the street. He eventually meets another survivor though who tells him that before the media stopped broadcasting the government had advised everyone to relocate to major cities where they were hoping to arrange fortified centres. Rick comes to the conclusion that Lori must have headed for Atlanta where her parents live. He visits the now abandoned police station to get his uniform and grab some guns and sets off for Atlanta to see if he can find his family.
This is a really good comic if not quite a great one. I haven't read future volumes yet but I'm told that the series gets better as it goes on and that the writing of Kirkman (who was a relative novice here) improves too. The dialogue is a little clunky in places but there are some memorable lines too. The final line by Rick here is great I think. The comic is pretty grisly in places and not for children. You can't have a zombie comic without some gore and a few shocks. The start of the comic is almost identical to the overrated Danny Boyle film 28 Days Later but you have to remember that The Walking Dead was being written and planned a long time before that film came out. If anything, 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead BOTH mimic John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids with their opening storylines. The black and white art by Tony Moore is certainly interesting and mostly effective. His zombies are good and his lines on the page are striking at times creating a great atmosphere. The emotion of the characters is conveyed well by the artist. If you had to nitpick you could say that some of the drawings are somewhat cartoonish (the chins are too big and comic book superhero!) and jar with the dark and realistic atmosphere the comic is groping for but on the whole I like the illustrations here and I think the black and white works well. I couldn't imagine this in colour now after reading it. I believe though that Moore was replaced for later volumes and the art got even better. One thing I like about the comic is that no one seems to be safe. They are completely unafraid to kill people off and you even miss a few of the people they do have munched by zombies.
There are some nice panels in Atlanta when Rick travels into the city on horseback like a cowboy and gets a lot more than he bargained for in the end before finding a small group of survivors who are camped outside the city. Here he meets his wife and son again (quite poignant) but trouble soon brews because his former police partner Shane is there and Shane has taken a shine to Rick's wife Lori in his absence. He isn't pleased at all to see Rick unexpectedly return and tension between them soon develops. This is exacerbated by Rick's leadership qualities. He is a genuine do gooder and not one to sit around letting other people decide what to do. There is some inventive stuff here I think. I liked the section where they venture back into the city to obtain some firearms and Rick has the idea of rubbing themselves with dead body parts to disguise their smell from the zombies. It works but what happens when it rains? There are some good tense situations throughout. Maybe some of the characters veer towards caricature and aren't drawn out enough but I think there are some interesting ideas here that are relatively new to this well worn genre. What, for example, would it mean to be a child in the zombie apocalypse? I don't recall ever seeing any children in the Romero films but that question is addressed here. The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye is a good comic on the whole and you'll be curious to read future volumes if you do get hold of this. It's certainly recommended to Romero and zombie fans. This runs to about 140 pages overall and at the time of writing is available to buy for about a fiver.
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