The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye (2004)
By: J.R. McNamara on June 5, 2009  |  Comments ()  |  Share 
Cover Art
Cover Art
Publisher: Image Comics
By: Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore
Ok, George… so then what happened to Barbara?

Or to Peter and Francine?

What about Sarah?

And Riley. And Slack…what happened to her?

Isn't it a shame that movies have a set timeline, and that you can only see a snippet of what is going on during an event that clearly encompasses so much more? Wouldn't it be cool if you could get a continuing story - a soap opera, if you will - about the events succeeding the night that the living dead rose from their Graves?

Comic writer Robert Kirkman thinks the same, and he thinks so strongly about it he developed a comic series called The Walking Dead. This is such a good comic that I actually hope they never make it into a movie, but a TV series instead, as the characters and situations deserve so much more than 90 minutes in a darkened cinema, or a 120 minute 'uncut directors cut' version on DVD. The Walking Dead tells the tale of a group of people, who have had to become nomadic in trying to survive what ever event it was that caused the Dead to return to some kind of life and consume the living, and their survival is a continuing tale - not an interlude. This comic in its individual issues has been published by Image comics since 2003, and continues.

Reviewed here is a trade paperback collection of the first six issues. In this TPB we are introduced to the protagonist of the story, Rick Grimes, a cop who has been in a coma for a month after being shot by an escaped criminal. What he awakes to is not the world he left, but instead a world gone crazy. The town he lives in has been abandoned, and the only beings left walking the streets are the Dead, hungry for a feed. After almost killing a boy, Duane Jones, after initially mistaking him for a zombie, Rick meets his father Morgan, who tells him the tales of a nightmare world.

He allows Morgan and Duane access to the armory in the police station, and lets them to take whatever weapons they will need to survive, and heads off to Atlanta in Georgia, where he believes his wife and son would have escape to. Upon arrival he finds more carnage than in his small town, and happens upon a young boy named Glenn, still alive, and living on the outskirts of town with a group of survivors who are doing the best they can given the circumstances.

Rick goes with Glenn to the camp, and discovers his wife Lori and son Carl are there, under the protection of his partner in the police force, Shane. Shane and Rick assume an unofficial command of the group, and start to train them in the use of  guns so they are better prepared to defend themselves against the hordes. Unfortunately, sometimes living problems can be just as devastating as the undead kind, as Rick discovers that maybe Shane has had different plans for Lori and Carl other than just to protect them until Rick emerged from his coma…

One of the things I really like about this comic is that it doesn't rely on the blood and gore to tell its tale. The stories are presented in black and white with some really nicely applied grey tones which tell the story rather than creating a geek-show of gore. There is no doubt the story in this tale is a bit derivative, especially at the start, of John Wyndam's The Day of the Triffids, or for the more recent additions to horror culture, 28 Days Later, and a lot of Romero's world as well. It is however, a great story, well executed in every aspect of the writing, though I must admit that while I like Tony Moore's art, I find it a little too cartoony to tell such a serious story..

This isn't just a zombie story, and unlike George Romero's tales it isn't a wry look at consumerism, or socio-economic woes in a world filled with flesh-eaters. No, this is a look at how human beings find the gumption to survive the apocalypse, and how far they will go to if they are to succeed in that endeavor. Kirkman's story is a grand one, and truly one worth picking up if you are a fan of those who return from the grave to eat us.

Zombie fans, load your shotguns, sharpen your machetes and grab a copy of this trade paperback: you won't be disappointed.
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