Ryan Thomason

From the Comic Hold: The Walking Dead Vol. 1 Compendium

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I’ve never been a “Zombie” guy, yeah, sometimes I’ll watch a movie, but I’ve never been that into them. Then came The Walking Dead on AMC and all of my Comic Book friends telling me to read the comics. A comment statement was that “they’re (the comics) are better than the show”, a show that apparently nearly everyone I know watches. I took them up on that statement, talked to Image comics and plowed through the first 48 Issues of The Walking Dead that was collected into the first Compendium.

spoilers ahoy!

I think something that’s always turned me off about zombie stories in general is that I’ve never really given a crap about zombies. Yes, they eat people and you have to bash one in the head to take it out, everyone knows that. So, coming into Walking Dead, with so many people telling me how great it was, I was blown away by the story; the characters, the group of survivors trying desperately to stay alive in a world that will end you in an instant, whether it be a misstep, an unfortunate turn into a blocked alley, or just not paying attention to your surroundings. The Vol. 1 Compendium collects issues #1 – #48 of the series, it’s a massive book, (insert zinger about killing zombies with it) and well worth whatever monetary investment you put into owning it. You can thank the AMC show for the boosting in the prices for the comics. Obviously just buying this one book can save you a bunch of money trying to collect trades and back issues.

The zombies in The Walking Dead are unending it seems, but the way that they interact with the central storyline is something that I find hard to describe. The zombies play a secondary role, they are the ever present enemies, always there when you make a mistake, always ready to move in when you forget to close a door, but always backup to the central characters. I usually have a hard time with stories that have so many characters, I like to focus on the “hero”, but this comic makes a Hero out of almost anybody, it’s easy to find someone that you like for whatever reason. Yes, there is Rick, but I think the group as a whole are the true Heroes of the story.

Rick Grimes is a former cop from a small town, before the outbreak, he was shot in a gunfight and fighting for survival in a hospital. When everything fell apart while he was in a coma, he laid in his bed, unharmed by the destruction that was unfolding around him. When he wakes up, in obvious confusion, stumbles around his section of the hospital and has a big dose of reality when he opens a chained door and confronts the new world he woke up in. From there on out, Rick is in pure survival mode, searching for his family, searching for civilization, searching for a way to grasp the reality of what’s happened and turn it in his favor. The first nearly 50 issues in this book held me spellbound for the weeks it took me to find the precious time before I go to sleep, reading something that was bound to mess with my dreams. Oh, and how I had glorious dreams of zombies for the last few weeks. There are three major locations within this collection; Atlanta, Hershel’s farm, and The Prison. If you’ve only been watching the AMC version of The Walking Dead, you’re doing yourself a disservice, much like I was. Reading the comics adds another layer of clarity and gives you a sense of anticipation to see how the show takes on certain themes from the comic. I’m getting ahead of myself, that’s a different article I want to write.

I really want to dive deep into what I read in the compendium, I really do. The wall that I’m running into is that I simply don’t want you, maybe someone who hasn’t read the comics to lose any of the grandeur that I was able to go through. If you are up to snuff on the comics, email me, twitter me, we’ll be Carl and Sophie playing around while everyone else is freaking out around us. The Walking Dead isn’t a bunch of zombies eating people and the living bashing their heads in. That happens, more than enough. What The Walking Dead is, to me at least, is a powerful story about a man willing to do whatever it takes to keep his family and his people, his group of survivors alive. Along the way, members of the group step up to the plate and grow into their own, adding an invaluable piece to the machine that is this group of survivors. Besides Rick, Glenn is someone I’m always rooting for in the comics, he’s the guy I want to be if the crap hit the fan The thing is though, nobody is safe, central characters die, people make mistakes, horrible things happen, humanity is in a primal mode of survival. It’s intense, it’s amazing, and it’s powerfully driven by a story that anybody can find themselves falling into.

Good thing this is just the beginning, there is a Vol. 2 Compendium out now, and only a handful of comics that recently released after it. I still have some #60 issues to get through to finally be caught up, and I can’t wait. I may still not give a crap about zombies, but damn, do I give a crap about The Walking Dead now.

Buy this Compendium here: Walking Dead Compendium TPB Vol. 01
While you’re at it, you can now pick up the Compendium Vol. 2: Walking Dead Compendium TPB Vol. 02

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