Authors: Robert Kirkman
Illustrators: Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, and Tony MoorePublisher: Image Comics
Genre: Graphic Novel
We Are The Walking Dead
Robert Kirkman’s brilliant writing and understanding of his characters makes The Walking Dead Compendium Volume One absolutely one of the greatest zombie apocalypse scenarios ever conceived. The art style shift between chapters one and two is a little jarring, but the strength of the story will carry you through this tome.
After the popularity of the AMC series of the same name began to rise, Image comics released a Compendium of the first eight volumes of the comic series. While there are obviously similarities between the two, the comic’s strengths lie in the powerful character development and not lame soap opera moments to drive the story along.
The story begins with two Sherriff’s deputies responding to reports of a violent recidivist loose near their town. They go to try and stop the man, but one of the officers, Rick Grimes is shot. In the next panel, Rick awakes an undetermined amount of time later to an abandoned hospital full of massacred ghouls, with the world he knew completely gone. Rick sets out to find his family, who he thinks might have gone to Atlanta to find their relatives.
Rick is an instantly likeable protagonist. He is a cop, but he does not use his badge to gain the respect of his peers. He simply does the right thing whenever and however he can. Rick is nowhere near perfect, and sometimes he seems as prone to breakdowns as any of the characters introduced throughout the book, but that makes him more interesting.
Kirkman does a fantastic job of capturing the terror of a world where the dead have risen to feed upon the living. In the earlier chapters, when some characters still believe that their predicament is a temporary one, the hope they feel is palpable. You want to believe a character when they feel that the military will just blow through the masses of undead, but the moment you see the “roamers” you know that simply isn’t going to happen. Most of the choices made by the survivors are made purely out of a desire to keep the group going and that adds a much needed level of realism to the world. You understand why they do the things they do because you’d probably find yourself doing the same thing.
The primary antagonists are obviously the dead, but when it gets truly interesting is when Rick’s group comes into conflict with other groups of survivors. The most infamous case being the people of a small town called Woodbury and their leader, The Governor. As soon as The Governor is introduced the story truly takes off. The tension built, literally, over months of the story comes to a heartbreaking, unforgettable climax with powerful imagery that will be burned into your mind.
My only complaint with the book is the dramatic shift in art styles between chapter one and chapter two. Tony Moore, the artist for the first six issues, chose a more cartoon like style which looked good but didn’t suit the atmosphere of the events on the page. He was replaced by Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn, who, with their brilliant use of darkness and an added feel of realism, perfectly capture the grit and emotion of the characters throughout.
Overall, The Walking Dead Compendium One is the ultimate resource for those looking to find something new and interesting in a comic book, or those who are fans of the series and want a good chunk of the story in one vast volume.