Comic Book Review: The Walking Dead, Vol. 1 Days Gone Bye

Genre: Horror/Zombie

Creator/Writer/Letterer: Robert Kirkman

Penciler/Inker: Tony Moore

Publisher: Image

When the Comic Book Store Guy speaks, people listen – for good reason.

I admit it:  I rarely visit my local comic book store these days.  Collecting comic books just isn’t a top priority any longer, not in the current economy.  When I do go looking for something, I want to get my money’s worth. That generally means I’ll be shambling through the aisles for an hour or more looking for the perfect fit.

In my case, that means something dark and demented, sinister and shocking.

On a recent visit, I was short on time, so I asked the owner if he could recommend a few new horror titles.  A horror fan himself, he led me along the storefront, pointing out a half dozen titles; I accepted a few suggestions and abstained from the others.

Then he beckoned me toward the back of the store and showed me The Walking Dead series and asked if I was familiar with it. He admitted it wasn’t new, but guaranteed me I would enjoy it.

In fact, The Walking Dead has been published since 2003. The Walking Dead, Vol. 1 Days Gone Bye collects the first six issues. The tale opens in the midst of a stand-off as two cops try to corral an escaped prisoner. Police officer Rick Grimes is shot during the melee, suffering a wound which puts him in a coma.

While he’s lying comatose in a hospital bed, the world changes. When he wakes, he quickly discovers that society has crumbled and the dead are shuffling through the streets looking for their next meal. He struggles to find his way home, nauseated by the grisly scenes he sees along the way.

All this may sound relatively routine for the genre, but The Walking Dead takes what is standard fare in zombie epics and puts it into a unique perspective. The comic book is character-driven, supported by realistic dialogue and propelled by a gripping overriding story arch as well as appealing subplots. By the time Grimes arrives in Atlanta, the reader is starting to feel his angst and his loneliness. As new characters are introduced and internal dramas begin to play out, the reader becomes even more involved in the plight of the refugees.

Let’s not forget that this is horror, though.  Unexpected story twists and scenes of zombie carnage provide plenty of shivers along the way.  The disquieting final sequence, too, is a nice kick in the teeth.

For those who aren’t familiar with The Walking Dead, give it a shot.  If you take my advice and start reading now, you may be up to speed come October.  According to reports, that’s when a television series based on The Walking Dead will debut on AMC.

On a scale of 1 to 5, The Walking Dead rates a solid 4.

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