Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Tony Moore
144 pages, black and white
Published by Image Comics
There’s been a resurgence of zombies in popular media over the past couple of years. Maybe it’s a reaction to society in general, with mindless masses working in their office jobs and believing everything they’re told. Alternately, maybe it’s just because people really like shambling undead monsters that want to eat your brains. Either way, there’s definitely a lot of them as of late, and in comics there’s a clear winner of the most popular zombie book: The Walking Dead.
Officer Rick Grimes was shot while trying to apprehend a suspect, but what he didn’t know was that was the last normal moment of his life. When he woke up, several weeks had passed and he was all alone in an abandoned hospital. Well, abandoned by the living, at any rate. The world is now consumed by zombies that have taken over all large urban areas, and all it takes is one bite from them to transform you too into a zombie. Now Rick needs to find out what happened to his family, see if there’s anyone else out there still alive… and survive.
In terms of a suspense story, the first collection of The Walking Dead has exactly what you’re looking for. From the moment that Rick wakes up in the empty hospital until the very end of the collection, there’s barely a chance to stop and breathe as one attack or escape after another happens. In many ways, that’s both what I liked and disliked about The Walking Dead. It’s a book that never lets up in terms of suspense and tension, but it does so at the cost of character development. At the end of six issues worth of stories, we still barely know any of the cast aside from Rick himself, and even he qualifies as little more than a generic resourceful person. Hopefully this is something that’s fixed in later installments, because as much as I do enjoy the suspense portion of The Walking Dead, the book becomes very formulaic in its attack/escape routine. The back cover talks about how without modern conveniences people truly start living, and that’s what I want to see; the characters living, not just catching their breath between disasters.
Tony Moore’s art works well with the stories in The Walking Dead; it’s one that draws both humans and zombies alike with ease. It’s nice to see Moore getting all the little details right, like cheekbones or individual hairs on people’s faces as beards first begin to grow in. In many ways, Moore’s art reminds me of Steve Parkhouse, with people’s slightly angular features and how you still can see individual lines in people’s hair. Even the backgrounds look nice in The Walking Dead; you can see the barren trees in the backgrounds of the camp that give off a feeling of death, or the shambles that is Atlanta letting you know that everyone in the city is now gone. It’s a pity that Moore didn’t work on future volumes of The Walking Dead, because he’s able to capture Kirkman’s scenes well and really bring them to life.
The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye is a good book, and I certainly enjoyed reading it. At the same time, though, things will have to change if the series is going to keep my interest. Hopefully future installments move away from the patterns that got established here; if The Walking Dead can keep moving forward, and start to concentrate on the people trapped within the world of zombies instead of just the zombies being a menace, this will be a series that can go on for a very long time to come.