The Walking Dead is an on-going comic book series from Image Comics that started in 2003 and is still being published. This review is of the first trade paperback, which includes the first six issues of the series. I plan to review the other trade paperbacks and hopefully to catch up to the currently published individual issues. A television adaptation on AMC is scheduled for broadcast in October 2010.
ZPAA ratingLate teens and up (use your judgment based on content summary below)
Gore level8 of 10--there's lots of rotting, maggoty zombies shambling around and kills tend to be graphic. Of course, it's a graphic novel, so the kills aren't drawn out and hard to watch, but usually the goriest moment of the kill is what's drawn (bullets blowing out brains or axe in mid-decapitation). Also, the drawings are black and white, thus a little less graphic than it could be. So, close to a 10 for gore.
Other offensive contentSome pretty bad language (f-bombs and such), human on human violence, marital strife; an implied extra-marital affair.
How much zombie mythology/contentPlenty of the classic zombies in this book. They go around trying to eat whoever they can. No explanation has been given yet as to what started the zombies.
How much funThis is grim stuff, not too much humor. The idea of the series is to follow a person through the zombie apocalypse and see how that person would react, grow and change because of the events and what he had to do to survive. The idea is very intriguing.
Synopsis & ReviewSmall town police officer Rick Grimes is shot in the line of duty and falls into a coma. Waking up a month later, he finds himself in an abandoned hospital. Well, abandoned except for some zombies locked in a bunch of different rooms. Eventually he fights his way to his home where he doesn't find his wife and son, though he does meet a father and son living in a neighbor's house. They tell him that in the first days of the zombie crisis people were ordered to go to large cities where they could be protected. Rick decides to head to Atlanta where his wife has relatives. After picking up guns, ammo and the best police cruiser available, he sets out. He runs out of gas and winds up on foot heading into the big city. He discovers nothing but zombies in Atlanta till someone pulls him out of the fray. They escape to a small camp outside the city where about a dozen survivors are waiting for the government to show up and save everybody. In the group are his wife Lori and his son Carl. Thus begins the epic adventure to survive the zombie doom that has befallen everyone.
The book is pretty compelling. The author, Robert Kirkman, says in the introduction that he is a fan of the zombie movies that are about more than gore and mayhem: "Good zombie movies show us how messed up we are, they make us question our station in society... and our society's station in the world. They show us gore and violence and all that cool stuff too... but there's always an undercurrent of social commentary and thoughtfulness." Instead of just a snippet out of someone's life, the series will follow years and years of Rick dealing with his new world. As Kirkman says, this is a zombie movie that doesn't end. The idea is very ambitious and he is off to a great start.
The characters are interesting though they do mostly fall into the pragmatic category. Whether that's the type of person who would survive or they are just pragmatic now in the immediate aftermath of the upheaval of their world remains to be seen. Rick is a solid guy who loves his family, but comes into conflict with his wife over whether their seven-year-old should carry a gun or not. All sorts of major and minor debates about practicalities are going on, so there is plenty of realistic conflict among the survivors.
The story is fairly believable, once you get past Rick's waking up from a month of coma and walking around without much problem, even though he'd really need some serious physical therapy. This standard problem (which it shares with the movie 28 Days Later) is virtually ignored. It would have been nice if Kirkman had found an original and plausible way to start the story. He quickly establishes his creativity as Rick tries to find his family. Rick finds a bike outside the hospital and uses that to get around town, before he thinks of getting a police car for the long haul to Atlanta.
I am interested to see where the story will go. I'm in for the long haul, just like Rick and his family.
Available at Amazon (see link below) and at fine comic stores near you, like my favorite Third Eye Comics in Annapolis, Maryland.