Comic Review: The Walking Dead
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Tony Moore (issued 1-6), Charlie Adlard (issues 7-present)
Plot: [WARNING, THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE WALKING DEAD COMIC SERIES]
Rick Grimes was an average sheriff in an American town with a wife and little boy when he was shot and fell into a coma. Upon waking up he finds that he’s been left alone in the hospital. Oh, and there’s a zombie apocalypse going on in the world.

Suddenly Rick is on a quest to find his family, which he does. They have joined a rag-tag band of characters lead his Rick’s old partner, Shane. Turns out that Shane’s been keeping Rick’s family safe while he’s been out…in more ways than one. Yuppers, he’s hooked up with Rick’s wife Lori, and Rick’s completely ignorant to it. Now that Rick’s back, Lori returns to him – which sets Shane off in a big way. A crazy way.

Carl, Rick’s little boy, saves his father by shooting Shane when he goes into a crazy rage.

After that, the group searches for a safe place, going from town to town trying to avoid the zombies and looking for food. They eventually come upon a prison where they meet some inmates and set up shop. The place is fortified, stocked with food, and still has electricity – which is everything you want in a place surrounded by zombies. But then the group meets their neighbor, an insane man named The Governor. He captures several of the survivors and cuts off Rick’s hand, as well as brutally rapes one of the women from the group. Eventually they escape (with the woman slicing off several “parts” of the Governor), but they are followed back to the prison where they have to make their final stand.

During the conflict the outer fence is breached, and the group decides it’s time to cut their loses and run. Unfortunately during their escape, Lori is fatally wounded and dies.

Rick, Carl, and the remainder of their group continue to find a safe place to call their own, and search for months. Some of the group members leave, some die, some go crazy, some hook up. Eventually they stumble upon a town of people who have walled themselves into a community. It seems safe enough, but Rick suspects something sinister. Rick decides it’s not good enough to leave this community to the musing of it’s current leader – he needs to protect it himself, by force if necessary.

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This is just a summary of the plots from the first 60 or so issues of the comic, which is an epic journey of the human condition and what it takes to survive in a world where everything you know is gone…or is trying to eat your brains. But it raises an interesting question about what you an an individual would do in a seriously pure survival situation like that.

The focus of the story from month-to-month is on the characterization and how they work together to overcome their basic humanity and desperate situations to survive, and the drama that ensues. And there is a lot of drama. I think I can count on one hand the number of times a zombie has killed someone in this comic, but it would take three people’s fingers and toes to count the number of times someone has been killed by a living / breathing person.

The slower pace may not appeal to every reader, but it certainly appeals to me. I love the depth we get from these characters through the range of emotions they go through – and they do go through a range. Kirkman puts in some truly heart-wrenching moments in this book that will rip your guts out and feed them to you. Literally.

I read these books in trade format, which can get a little slow in a single sitting. There’s a lot of recap in every issue so the monthly readers don’t get lost (and new readers can play catch up), which can get old 5-6 times per collected trade. But it’s easy enough to overlook if you’re prepared for it.

The series has become incredibly popular, even spawning a TV series on AMC. I’ve only watched the pilot, but it seems like a pretty fun show. If it’s anything like the comic, though, expect it to be a little slow but focus more on characterization and the relationships between characters than anything else.

If you like classic George Romero horror flicks, zombie survival stories, characterization and deep multi-dimensional characters, or even just human dramas, you need to be reading this comic every month. And if you’re just a casual comic reader, you should certainly check it out at the library or something.

And if you only like superhero comics, well…then you should still read it, since it made zombies popular again – which Geoff Johns included in the Blackest Night story for Green Lantern. So yeah, read it!