Welcome to a new feature here at No Flying No Tights, Doubletake.
Rather than do a basic review for graphic novels that are made up of numberous volumes, a re-read allows us to accomplish two goals: review the work and encourage you to follow along and chime in with your thoughts and comments. If it is your first exposure to the graphic novel, that’s even better!
Our first re-read will discuss Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. Although popular among readers, The Walking Dead has been given further exposure from the televised adaptation developed by Kirkman and Frank Darabont. If you’ve been following the show, you will quickly discover that it has diverged significantly from the source material, so people, places and situations will be different. Also note that this feature will not shy away from spoilers. You’ve been warned!
The genesis of The Walking Dead came from Kirkman’s desire to see an ongoing story of a zombie apocalypse. With fifteen trade paperback volumes currently available on the shelves, Kirkman shows no signs of stopping the story, despite the major changes that have occurred since the first volume. Unique to The Walking Dead is Kirkman’s philosophy of no character being safe from death, allowing for a constant state of tension. The Walking Dead is not a happy story, it is one that follows the remnants of humanity struggling to stay afloat in an ocean of madness after the dead begin to walk the earth.
The Walking Dead, “Days Gone Bye”
The Walking Dead begins with officer Rick Grimes waking in a hospital bed after he is shot by armed thugs. Weak and confused, Rick stumbles through the seemingly abandoned building and finds a cafeteria filled with the undead before leaving the facility, allowing himself a brief moment of total emotional collapse. Liberating a bicycle from an undead corpse, Rick visits his home and finds no sign of his wife and son. Dismayed, the officer walks outside and gets bashed on the back of the head with a shovel. Coming to, Rick is introduced to Morgan and his son Duane who, after ensuring that Rick is not infected, brings him up to speed. In the classic zombie setup, no one really knows why the dead have risen from their graves, only that they have quickly overrun major cities and sent everyone in a panic. The government set up shelters, the closest being the city of Atlanta, but some – like Morgan – opted to stay in the suburbs. Rick takes Morgan to the police station where the two men stock up on weapons and supplies before going their separate ways.
Rick reaches the outskirts of Atlanta without incident but hope of finding survivors is lost because the city is dead and he is quickly surrounded by the creatures. Finding shelter in a nearby alley, Rick meets a young man named Glenn who helps him out of the city and to a nearby camp, where he is tearfully reunited with his wife Lori, his son Carl and his partner Shane. After a zombie wanders into the camp and breaks up the reunion, Rick takes Glenn back into the city to
gather weapons. In order to pass through without attracting attention, Rick comes up with a bold idea to hide their scent by covering the two of them with zombie gore, thinking that the undead search out prey by smell. The ruse works well enough until a storm breaks and the rain washes the grime away, sending the surrounding zombies into a frenzy. The two reach safety and agree not to tell anyone about their near death experience. Back at camp, Shane and Lori share a private moment that suggests a previous sexual encounter between the two. Shane and Rick train the survivors to use weapons, which is put to good use as the camp is attacked by a small of herd of zombies during the night, leaving Amy dead and Jim mortally wounded.
The attack leaves the survivors shaken and traumatized. Amy is buried and Jim is tended to until he asks to be left alone to die on his own. Rick suggests that the survivors pack up and go some place else, which sets Shane off the deep end and accuses Rick of blaming him for the deaths of Amy and Jim. Lori steps in to defend her husband, which angers Shane even more as he storms off into the forest. Chasing after him, Rick confronts Shane who breaks down, allowing his anger
and jealousy to get the better of him. Wanting Rick out of the picture in order to be with Lori, Shane makes a move to shoot his former friend, but is instead shot by Carl. The volume ends with Rick embracing his son who says, “It’s not the same as killing the dead ones, Daddy.”
Adults: Rick, Lori, Allen, Donna, Carol, Shane, Jim, Andrea, Amy, Glenn, Dale, Morgan
Children: Carl, Sophia, Billy, Ben, Duane
Days Gone Bye is a great introduction into Kirkman’s zombie nightmare, setting the tone of what we can expect to see throughout the series. While there are herds of zombies waiting to make lunch out of Rick and his band of survivors, this new, chaotic world is dangerous and terrifying enough to turn humans into savages. Shane’s outburst shows that people are hanging by a thread, with all of the prejudices and grudges becoming our worst enemies in a society that no longer has rules.
Rick Grimes is, and will be, the series’ most fascinating character. Although he shows signs of being a reluctant leader, there are moments where he steps in and asserts dominance over the lives of the Atlanta survivors. Although the survivors are quick to look up to him, Shane is obviously upset because his new life as a leader and Lori’s lover gets taken away. Human nature plays a big part in The Walking Dead and this certainly won’t be the last time we see something
Days Gone Bye is illustrated by Tony Moore who has an incredible eye for detail, especially when it comes to drawing zombies and urban environments. Atlanta is rendered in painstaking detail and from buildings to litter, there’s always something to see in each panel. Because Moore’s artwork is clean and fine, it makes the violent images all the more graphic. Know now that this series is not for the faint of heart. Zombies bite and rip human flesh with shocking ferocity
as skin peels, bones break and blood flows uncontrollably.
Check back next week for a look at volume 2!