Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Tony Moore
I wasnít sure about this title when it was first announced. I wasnít familiar with either Kirkman or Moore and hadnít read an Image comic in years. Yeah, I love zombie stories, but I just wasnít sure. Then a couple of months ago Image released Brit and it kicked my ass. It had solid characterizations, strong plot, graphic violence and very nice art. So my expectations went from nothing to extremely high in the span of reading that book.
Well, I wasnít disappointed.
The Walking Dead is a classically informed zombie story. The opening chapter is very reminiscent of the recent film 28 Days Later, but thatís almost impossible to avoid and doesnít really hurt this title at all. There are only so many ways of introducing your main character into an apocalyptic zombie wasteland if you want to keep it contemporary and not spiral out into science fiction trappings (see the also very entertaining Lone for that variation). What is important in a zombie narrative is the characterization and Kirkman is in top form here. Our hero, police officer Rick Grimes, wakes up in the hospital after being shot in the line of duty, only to find the place deserted. Well, almost deserted anyway. Heh heh. Grimes is not your stereotypical action hero (even if he is a cop), and the sequence where he stumbles across the zombie with the wrecked bicycle is fantastic. With practically no words, we see the psychological workings of Grimes in a way that really emphasizes his humanity and his complexity.
This is, of course, because of the extremely strong artwork by Moore. Not only are the zombies disgustingly graphic, but they are realistic. Everything is realistic and his use of gray tones instead of colors serves to not only create a mood, but to make the art really seem layered. This is something that Imageís Sword of Dracula could have used. I think the artwork and the story are more effective in the black and white, actually. It doesnít distract the reader with bursts of blood and gore, and instead draws the reader in, almost forcing you to take it all in without flinching. Okay, you can flinch, but you know what I mean. It allows Moore to get as graphic as he wants with the zombies, but we donít get overwhelmed by it. Itís sneaky and it works.
All in all, this book has everything I want in a zombie narrative. Sympathetic protagonists, graphic detail in the rotting of the zombies, and a touch of nihilism mixed generously with a bit of hope. The pacing of the story is damn near perfect and I really canít wait until the next issue hits the stands.
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