AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: Image’s The Walking Dead comic (2003)
In 2003 Image Comics released the first issue of The Walking Dead, a comic written by Robert Kirkman. The comic sort of became a phenomenon among the comic reader crowd. Robert Kirkman was the up and coming star for Image. He also wrote the comics Invincible and The Astounding Wolf-Man as well as the original Marvel Zombies storylines.
Even though I’m a huge Kirkman fan and have read the previously mentioned books, I never once had picked up an issue of The Walking Dead. It was getting a bit out of control. With the popularity of the TV show and the books taking off, everyone was telling me it was the greatest thing ever. Why hadn’t I read it? You NEED to read it. It was getting old and I just shut down. If too many people at once tell me how great something is I tend to turn on that thing and say, “You know what, F**K you, Walking Dead. You think you’re better than me?” I mean, Chris Lockhart and Jeff Brown over on the Geek Fallout podcast fawn all over this franchise so much I fully expect to see them at a commitment ceremony standing next to the Omnibus editions. So for several years I had a chip on my shoulder about this comic (and the TV series, really).
This “chip” is one of the reasons I didn’t choose zombies as my Halloween topic last year; to avoid having to read these comics or watch the show. And, the MOMENT I decided on zombies for THIS year, I knew I couldn’t avoid it any longer. So I sucked it up and acquired the first 5 volumes of trades for the series. These trades collect the first 30 issues of the title.
I figure 30 issues is enough to form an opinion about the comic series. And it’ll help me decide if I want to spend the time watching the show.
So, as you can see by my long, rambling intro, I had NO IDEA what this comic was about other than zombies. So I dove in and started reading. The comic is extremely well written, but I wasn’t surprised about that as I’m a big Kirkman fan anyway. The characters are interesting and it actually, for the most part, feels like what would probably happen if there was a zombie apocalypse. However, the story becomes exceedingly bleak and dark the further you go into the series. It almost becomes a chore to read. This stark bleakness is absolutely one of the series’ strengths while simultaneously being it’s biggest weakness. There’s just no hope. Things keep getting worse.
By the time I finished the fifth trade, I had just met The Governor and his fortress-like city. This character is great, but exceedingly ruthless. He does many despicable things to some of our heroes. However, the character was charismatic and fascinating to read. It sort of made me want to read more. So, even though, like I said, I was getting weary of the sadness of the story, I was consistently intrigued enough in the events to continue reading. I was both relieved and disappointed to reach issue #30. But, that was where my collection ended, so I couldn’t move forward even if I wanted to.
Like I said, I liked the books. At some point I’ll continue reading, but I think I’m taking a bit of a sabbatical from this story. Again, great writing and the minimalist black and white artwork only adds to the atmosphere. If you haven’t, definitely give this comic a chance. But be aware, it’s not for the timid.
Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.