I was late to this party, not even fashionably late, almost worryingly late… (like your Mom’s monthly time after her prom)
Until a couple days ago, I had never read an issue, or seen an episode of The Walking Dead. I know, that’s bananas right? So on Monday (Mon-deeee!) when Chris stopped by for the recording of the podcast, he dropped by The Walking Dead Compendium One. This heaping phone book sized book (remember phone books kids, good for seeing if your town had a guy named Harry Dick, or calling the store and asking if they have cotton balls, and if so, do they tickle when you walk?) contains the first 48 issues of The Walking Dead from writer Robert Kirkman, artists Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard, and The Mighty, Mighty Greytones of Cliff Rathburn. I knew lots of people who love the book, a ton more who are fans of the show, but I was completely in the dark about it. So how did I like it? Well… I read all 48 issues in about a day and a half. I couldn’t stop reading it. I get it now. I get why everybody has a chubby for The Walking Dead.
I’m not going to go through the book too much really, but of course beware of spoilers. The book is very much a Romero-esque zombie tale, with the slow shambling zombies, no explanation of why this is happening, and the questions of who the real monsters are in this world. It is fascinating to follow Rick from when he wakes up in this new world, through his journey to find his family, to finding them, and then the loss of his wife and baby. The decisions he makes, what he does to protect his family and the other survivors, are not without a cost, he does some bad things, for what he believes to be the greater good. Characters come and go, almost always in a shocking, senseless manner, that hammers home just how dangerous this world is. People become killers, children become killers, families destroyed, love is found and lost, friends are made, but you never know when death can come for someone, or many people on the next page. Nobody is safe here, if things seem like they are going good for our group, you just know something awful and unpredictable is coming.
Some moments that stick with me so far are Carl killing Shane, Michonne getting her revenge on the Governor (I know she wanted him to suffer, and shit, she does a number on him, but bad move letting him live), The Govenor himself, is one of the most reprehensible characters I’ve read about, everything about him is vile, and so many more of the characters deaths. It’s the Romero world for more than a couple hours at a time, a long term look at “surviving” the zombie apocalypse. It’s bleak, heartbreaking, scary, disturbing, and I couldn’t put it down. I need to give it a couple days, and then reread it more slowly, and see what that experience is like. Reading through it so fast, was pretty awesome though, reading this book as a monthly could be rough. Reading this big ol’ Compendium was a great way to do it, and if you get a chance, do it. Do it. Let’s all start a slow clap for Kirkman & Co. They deserve it.