Written By: Robert Kirkman
Editor: Sina Grace
Distributed By: Image Comics
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
My brother has been reading The Walking Dead comic book series since its inception and has been trying to get me to read it for almost as long. The same can be said for the television series based on the comic book. It took me a while to come around. Now that I have taken an extreme liking to the television series, I decided to see how much of a difference there really was between the comic book series and the television adaptation.
Of course, I had a lot of catching up to do. After all, this comic book has been out since 2001. What was a girl to do? Well, Image Comics came up with a perfect solution – The Walking Dead Compendium, compiling a multitude of comics from the series into one hefty volume. Thankfully, my brother was more than happy to purchase the first volume for my birthday. I couldn’t wait to check it out.
Compiling issues 1-48 and the Holiday Special 2005, the comic book series starts off with Sheriff Rick Grimes, shot and in a coma, waking up in the hospital and finding he is the only living sole inside. But he is not alone – the hospital is filled with shuffling, decaying bodies, all seeming to want to get hold of him. He manages to escape and get to his home, only to find that his wife and son have vacated the area. Distraught and disoriented, Rick, after a nasty lump to the head, finds himself in the company of Morgan Jones and his son. Morgan fills him in on the epidemic and the zombies that have been cropping up everywhere.
And so the story begins, with Rick heading to Atlanta to try to find his family, getting rescued by former pizza delivery boy Glenn, who leads him to his wife Lori and son Carl. Lori and Carl have been kept safe by Rick’s partner Shane, who was probably hoping he would never see Rick again, considering how close he has become to Lori. Also in the group is Dale, a retired man who had been traveling in his RV with his wife before the epidemic took her from him; former college student Amy and her law clerk sister Andrea; Carol and her daughter Sophia; former shoe salesman Allen, his wife Donna and their children Ben and Billy and a mechanic named Jim who watched his whole family get slaughtered by zombies.
The group travels along, gathering supplies, looking for a safer place to wait out the zombie nightmare, losing members along the way to zombies and other nightmares and gaining members who add just a little more zest to their group, including some prisoners locked in the local prison kitchen, a former veterinarian and farmer and his family, a former football player and his family and a sword wielding former lawyer named Michonne. While they clear out the local prison and try to eke out a safer existence there, they soon learn that there are more dangers than just the flesh eating dead…they discover that the living are actually just as dangerous, if not more.
As I read The Walking Dead: Compendium One, I noted the similarities between the comic book series and the television series like the names of characters and various locations the survivors find themselves in, but that is basically where the similarities end. Some of the storylines that take place in the comic actually do take place in the television series, but actually happen to different characters. Characters that we meet much later in the television series appear much earlier in the comics and vice versa. Characters that die early in the comics often get a reprieve in the television series…and sometimes not.
I noticed that the dead are actually called zombies or biters in the comic book and are categorized as either Roamers or Lurkers, depending on their activity (roam the earth searching for food or lay in wait to bite). They are never called zombies in the television series. I loved the fact that Rick actually tells his group that they are the Walking Dead, reminding them that once they die, they are destined to turn into a zombie. Their time on Earth is limited and they are destined to become the very thing they are running from. What a great moment in the series!
There are so many “Oh Crap!” moments in this comic book series and I found myself turning to my companion often while reading, yelling, “Oh Crap they just…!” “Holy @#%%$#$, they just killed so and so!” and “What the hell! They just cut off this guy’s hand!” And what Michonne does to the Governor as revenge for the atrocities he performs on her – Whoa! And what is up with Michonne anyway…I sense a multiple personality in this character…someone more vulnerable than she seems in the television series.
I love that the comic book series is black and white, leaving much of the gore to the imagination, while still managing to gross us out all the same. The artwork is pretty good, despite the minor inconsistencies in some of the characters’ appearances. The storyline is so captivating that I found myself finishing this 49-comic, 1088-page volume in just a couple of days, only stopping to do things like eat, sleep or work. The $38.00US price for The Walking Dead: Compendium One is awesome, especially when you consider how many comics are contained in this compendium and the fact that each comic costs about $3.00 apiece.
The Walking Dead: Compendium One is a terrific purchase for any fan of the comics (a definite space saver) or anyone interested in reading the comic book series so late in the game like myself. I can’t wait to read the rest of the compendiums out there – so far I know of three…are you reading this family? Hint, hint.