Jul 29, 2010

Comics: The Walking Dead, Volume One: Days Gone By

So, I got into non-superhero comic books rather late, having grown up in a country where comic books in general were a rarity. That means I have a lot of catching up to do, and hundreds of different places to start doing it. It is usually outside factors that decide which series I am going to give a try, and in this particular case the outside factors were my love for zombies and the TV show based on The Walking Dead and directed by Frank Darabont (of Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist fame) that is about to start airing in the Fall.

So anyway, back on topic. The Walking Dead tells the story of a group of people, trying to survive after a zombie apocalypse that basically wiped out civilization. Volume 1 begins with a small-town cop named Rick Grimes who wakes up after a month of coma, having being shot while on duty. He finds the world irrevocably changed, and starts searching for his wife and son. What he finds is a small community of refugees, with all their little and not so little dramas.

The setting is overused, true, but Robert Kirkman's treatment is still admirable. As he points out in the forward for the trade paperback, his purpose for this series is to show the lives of people as they survive in a hostile world. It is a bit off-putting when he bluntly tells that he plans The Walking Dead to be almost a never-ending story, but apart from that, the series accent aims true. A particularly favorite quote of mine from the back cover is "In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living."

Days Gone By is a bit rocky as most beginnings often are. The dialogue is nothing to write home about, motivation is a bit too spelled-out for my tastes and sometimes scenes don't connect well with each other, leaving the reader with a feeling of gaps in the narrative. Despite those little flaws though, the focus on characters is really well-executed, and there are moments of really strong emotional impact. I have high hopes of Kirkman's style maturing as he finds his stride in later volumes.

So far The Walking Dead looks like a solid read, and certainly worth checking out both by zombie buffs (who have probably already done that since the series has been running since 2003 and is nearing its 80th issue) and comic book fans in general. I know I'll be digging into Volume 2 first thing tomorrow!


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