Welcome back to Comic Virgins, your recurring series where I, Amanda, have begun exploring comics through the suggestions of Ben and Mike. Previous installments here.

Now, on to the show, where this week I read the first volume (issues 1-6) of The Walking Dead, created by Robert Kirkman and a lovely selection for this spooky time of year. Spoilers ahead; consider this your warning.

Without further ado:

WHAT THE F$#% DID I JUST READ.

That was my first reaction after seven-year-old Carl shoots Shane in the neck.

Can't wait to see how his parents handle enforcing bedtime.

Can’t wait to see how his parents handle enforcing bedtime.

 

But let’s back up a little.

You know, I thought this was going to be about zombies.

It’s kind of about zombies.

We get ya, Rick. One day, you're in a coma. The next, zombies fucking EVERYWHERE.

We get ya, Rick. One day, you’re in a coma. The next, zombies fucking EVERYWHERE.

But it’s mostly about how shitty and/or awesome people become when faced with tragedy, fear and crisis.

Shane needs a whiskey. STAT.

Shane needs a whiskey. STAT.

For those of you that haven’t read The Walking Dead (and why are you still reading this? I warned you: spoilers.), it’s about a band of travelers that have all found each other outside of Atlanta, Georgia, after shit goes down in the United States and nearly everyone catches a lil’ bit o zombie cold, or what have you. It pretty much stars Rick, a good ol’ Kentucky police officer, with his adorable (and now deadly) son Carl and wife Lori, as well as the rest of the hodgepodge collection of misfits.

This is really the first comic with a true human love interest (superhero romances don’t count here). In fact, you can call it a triangle, thanks to the aforementioned, now deceased, Shane, who has (had) a thing for Lori. Apparently a little somethin’-somethin’ happened on the way from Kentucky to Atlanta between Shane and Lori, but she’s happily back with her husband, tells Shane to shove it and OH MY GOD THIS IS A ZOMBIE COMIC I WANT ZOMBIE ATTACKS.

SOMEONE GET ME A ZOMBIE NOW.

SOMEONE GET ME A ZOMBIE NOW.

Never thought I would type that sentence, I’ll be perfectly honest.

To summarize, I didn’t expect a zombie comic to be so… soap opera-ish. But in a good way. I’d like to think that, yes, this is what it would be like, should zombies take over. Yes, we’d have our screams, our pistols and lots of running. But I also think that stuff would  be chock-ful of drama once everything settled into a routine.

I think my favorite parts about The Walking Dead are the relationships. I know, it’s not the zombies, but we certainly have the zombies to thank for the situation that’s causing such frank analysis of the human capacity. What separates the zombie from the unbitten? It’s the rotting flesh, yes, but it’s also the cognitive reason, the emotional capacity and the all-around human interest of staying alive. The camp is a beautiful little microcosm of what survives in a disaster. For example, the girls going to do laundry gives a good moment or two of consideration of gender relations. One woman brings up the fact that she’s not sure if women will still have the right to vote once all is set right – though, there’s no sign at all that an organized government could ever be reinstated. She says something along the lines of, “Why can’t it be the women hunting?” Lori comes back with a quick, and completely rational, answer – because, all things considered, the men are better with guns and they’re better with a bottle of detergent, she says to her – I think it’s Donna, but I can’t find it now and it’s really a minute detail… Anyway, the point I’m making is that, to these women, what’s more important – washing clothes or keeping the front of societal equality? I’m not saying the women are less valuable than the men. I’m saying that someone needs to wash the clothes, and Donna should hush.

Another wonderful example of what does (and doesn’t) survive in the apocalypse comes in the fourth issue, where Donna (someone bite her please) calls the boys’ gossip “unchristian.” Lori throws it back in her face, again – “So’s being judgmental, if I remember correctly” – and we see that people no longer give a shit about beating around the bush. It’s refreshing, although I don’t like how it takes a zombie apocalypse to bring this about. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just go up to our own judgmental Donnas and tell them to shut the hell up?

Anyway, back to my comic analysis. Visually, this comic is, once again, different than what I’ve read before. I like the absence of color – it lets me fill in the blank, so to speak, with how I see the day. Sometimes the characters contribute (Rick calls the sky overcast, in one issue), but it seems like it’s mostly left up to the reader. Yet, even with a lack of color, the characters come to life through meticulous shading and wonderful facial expressions. Kudos to the artist(s) (Kirkman, Tony Moore) who worked on this. It takes a lot to make a black-and-white world interesting, when we’re constantly surrounded by flashing color and whatnot in real life.

But I’ve got one, itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny beef with the plot. Rick, our darling copper, wakes up from a coma in a hospital and sets out for Atlanta on the small hope that his wife and son would have gone there. BY CHANCE, he happens to find someone in the city that saves his life and leads him to a camp where, lo and behold!, Lori and Carl are. Seriously? This is a perfect plot driver! You could have gotten like, 45 issues out of this! You blow it in like, 2? Really?

GAG. ME.

GAG. ME.

The big point, for me, however, is not the image or romance or political commentary. It’s the zombies. I love zombies. I love zombie movies. I don’t find them scary (often), but I do find them enrapturing. I could live my life in a zombie plot-line. Give me a gun, pick-axe or baseball bat, and I’m golden.

With all this said, I haven’t watched The Walking Dead television adaptation yet. I just haven’t gotten around to it, but that works in our favor, now, doesn’t it, dear reader? I’ve got an unadulterated scope in which to look at this comic. To truly test The Walking Dead, we’ve got to ask one question – does it hold up to the zombie lore set before it? It doesn’t seem to do too much in the way of furthering the zombie story. It’s a typical blood-born pathogen, passed through open wounds or bites. Seen it a dozen times. They’re also rather slow, easily dissuaded and not that intelligent. They’re not the most frightening of zombies. I had written The Walking Dead off, that is, until the zombies actually, finally attacked.

And it was glorious. Those rotten bastards got the best of the humans while they were all kumbayahing around the campfire. I can’t say that I was rooting for the zombies, but I was happy that this gang was finally challenged. these zombies finally seem like something of a positive addition to the zombie world. They are actually frightening, or at least suspenseful, judging by my honest-to-goodness gasp when Amy gets her neck chomped on.

To sum up, I liked it. I liked it so much that I’m continuing to read The Walking Dead. And, who knows – maybe I’ll try out the TV show, though I hope I’m not disappointed. Let me know what I should expect from the show below! Any other good zombie comics to check out? Comment, people! Until next time, don’t forget your shovel!

Pick up The Walking Dead, Vol. 1 at AmazonKirkman’s website or at your friendly neighborhood comic shop.

About The Author

Hey there! I'm Amanda, and I'm the managing editor for DetroyTheCyborg! I come to the job with a background in journalism, English, American culture and all-around interest in what makes up our site.

For a living, I'm a government reporter for a newspaper my hometown. Seeing as that can be a bit monotonous, I welcome the opportunity to write occasional book (and other) reviews for DTC. If you see a book coming up I should review, let me know!

My interests are many and varied. I love table top games, bad movies (and good films!), music of all genres and the occasional graphic novel. Ben P. is trying his hardest to increase my interest in comic books - stay tuned for the outcome of THAT adventure. When it comes to books, I've yet to find a genre that I won't read. I have a particular affinity to Lord of the Rings and non-fiction first-person explorations - see Mary Roach's Stiff or Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals for examples.

My other abilities? I find that I make a mean batch of cinnamon rolls, and I can (most of the time) keep the crayon inside the lines.

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