The Walking Dead: compendium 1
Medium: comic
Year: 2003
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard
Country: USA
Keywords: Walking Dead
Format: Issues 1-48, 1008 pages
Website category: Comics
Review date: 7 August 2023
Walking Dead
That's an extraordinarily big book. Available from Image Comics.
I haven't actually watched the TV series that it spawned, but I've heard a fair bit about it. This is the first quarter of the original comic's 193 issues, unusually (these days) in black-and-white.
It's also pretty good. It's a speedy read, with these 1000+ pages only taking me a few hours yesterday, and I like its focus. It's set after a zombie apocalypse, but it's not actually that interested in its zombies. They're everywhere. They're dangerous. But they're also slow and stupid, so even a few well-organised people with guns can secure an open area without too much risk. (Usually.)
No, what the story's really about is its people. The noble, the selfish, the bigoted, the total monsters and the "perfectly nice but under extreme stress and bloody hell does the group need brooding jealousy right now?" They're doing their best. Rick Grimes is an all-American small town cop and thoroughly nice chap, which is why it's so interesting to watch what this life does to him. They build a community. There are hiccups and people die, usually with no warning and sometimes in large numbers, but it's actually quite nice to follow them and watch their lives develop.
There's romance, but also anti-romance as people make terrible choices. There's extremely dark sexual content that I bet isn't in the TV version, even on a cable-only show. There's torture. A prison is our heroes' best hope for the future. Then, finally, a man called the Governor is one of the more disgusting villains you'll ever see in anything.
I like the art. Tony Moore is good and quite fun, but he couldn't keep up with the schedule and so Charlie Adlard came in. I'll admit that I'm happy to see a Doctor Who alumnus making it big (although "alumnus" is a big word for two Tom Baker six-page strips in 1990s Yearbooks), but Adlard's art really suits the book. It looks as if it's been drawn with axes and chisels.
I don't really have anything negative to say here. It's very good at what it does. It has a big cast and everyone in it has shades of grey (or worse). There's always someone to cheer for and someone to get annoyed at. Their decision-making isn't always the best, but it's not as if this is a world that's overflowing with good options. I could imagine this book being enjoyed even by readers who normally dislike the zombie genre, because it's really about the psychological and personal relationship angle among these people who'll have to stay on guard for the rest of their (probably short) lives. Plus, of course, reading a black-and-white comic isn't the same as watching zombies in live-action TV or film splattervision.
"I'll keep reading," was my reaction after this first volume... and I ended up reading all 4000+ pages of the whole series and even buying additional books. Yeah, it's good.