This review is going to be a bit different from my other reviews, as Todd and I both finished this book this week. Back in November I reviewed The Walking Dead Volume 1, which turns out to be the first chapter of hardcover book 1. Currently there are 14 paperback volumes and 7 hardcover books. Each hardcover book consists of 2 paperback volumes, while the paperback volumes consist of 6 comics. Slightly confusing? Yes. Awesome? You bet. Since Todd and I didn’t want to bombard you with the same review of the book back-to-back, we figured we’d join forces and write a dual review showcasing our different/similar points of view.
Todd: What can I say about zombies? Ever since I was introduced to this lovely group of the quasi-dead via Night of the Walking Dead in middle school I’ve been entranced by the idea that a zombie apocalypse might befall me during my lifetime. Most would be disgusted and scared by this possibility, but I’ll admit I would be kind of excited if it happened. Mind you I’m talking about an apocalypse in which I survive along with all my friends and family, but get to exact some sweet zombie-killing revenge in the process. I know it’s far-fetched, but then again aren’t zombies in general? Regardless, I digress. Kirkman weaves an enthralling and amazing tale of survival in The Walking Dead, as he tells the tale of a small town cop named Rick who wakes up from a coma amidst a full-blown zombie infection. What follows is the tale of survival and adventure between Rick and additional survivors as they battle the horde of zombies. Told with chilling realism and a healthy dose of emotional struggle, Kirkman follows Rick and company as they struggle to fight off zombie attacks and create some sense of normalcy amongst their freakish new reality. Will they be able to survive? To thrive?
Kim: Back in November I started my review with the following quote by Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman:
”To me, the best zombie movies aren’t the splatter fests of gore and violence with goofy characters and tongue in cheek antics. Good zombie movies show us how messed up we are, they make us question our station in society…and our society’s station in the world. They show us gore and violence and all that cool stuff too…but there’s always an undercurrent of social commentary and thoughtfulness.”
In reading hardcover book 1, I was able to see exactly what Kirkman was going for. While upon first glance the book’s illustrations can be quite graphic and intense, I was not deterred and really got into the dialogue between the characters. This is a book that is primarily about what happens to people emotionally and socially, rather than physically as they try to deal with the radical changes around them. I was really intrigued in how Kirkman tackled the theme of love in chapter 2. The theme of love is prevalent in multiple ways. You have the love a parent feels for a child, the love a boyfriend feels for a girlfriend, a husband feels for a wife, love in times of grief, love in times of intimacy, etc etc. This is definitely not what I expected for a zombie story. The fact that Kirkman created something with so much emotion and a bunch of characters that were so relatable that you could see yourself in them was phenomenal.
Todd: I definitely agree with your analysis of chapter 2. However, the high point for me was the ending of chapter 1.
Kim: Yeah, the ending of chapter 1 was CRAZY.
Todd: I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t read it, but all the action and stress has finally began to take a toll on the survivors. To this point, they have kept it together mentally because of necessity. In order to survive they needed to focus and push all other feelings to the back burner. The last few panels of chapter 1 release this pent-up emotion that everyone is feeling in a very interesting way, which was an amazingly clever way of Kirkman to introduce a cliffhanger and segue into chapter 2.
Kim: I definitely agree with you on the cliffhanger front. The end of chapter 2 sets us up with an awesome cliffhanger as well. The way each chapter is playing out is truly perfect. The story is neither rushed nor dragging. Kirkman does a fantastic job at making sure the reader gets emotionally involved with the story, the characters, and the themes.
Todd: I think it’s definitely a measure of success when you can get your readers so emotionally involved in your work. I think a lot of it stems from the fact that this is fiction, yet it has the potential (even if it is a remote one) to become nonfiction. That fact lingers in the back of our minds as we reevaluate our own lives and relationships in the context that we could lose those closest to us at any time.
Kim: It’s a testament to Kirkman’s ability as a writer to state that he totally gets the human mind and the human heart. These ever-present themes of love, loss, grief, family, survival, etc. are written realistically. Speaking of things being realistic, I have to give major props to the illustrators, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard. Their illustrations are absolutely fantastic. They are able to render the proper emotions in each of the characters’ faces, which only add to the enjoyment a reader has with the work.
Todd: I definitely agree. Those zombie illustrations creeped me out! Overall, I am incredibly impressed by this book. My love of zombies notwithstanding, I think that the character driven soul of this book makes it outshine all the blood and gore that fills the zombie genre. I heartily recommend it to anyone, as we all have common traits that are highlighted very eloquently (albeit with some zombies mixed in for good measure) in this work.
Kim: Ditto to everything Todd said. I hope that our joint commentary has piqued your interest in the Walking Dead series! We’re both reading hardcover book 2, so keep an eye out for another joint commentary next week!
Todd’s Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Kim’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
This is my eighth completed review for the Page to Screen Challenge