Janelle Dazzlepants's Reviews > The Walking Dead, Vol. 01: Days Gone Bye

The Walking Dead, Vol. 01 by Robert Kirkman
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's review
Mar 03, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: graphic-novels, horror, zombies, utopia-dystopia, comics, apocalypse
Read on March 03, 2011

** spoiler alert ** I'm no expert when it comes to graphic novels or comic books, so I'm just going to offer my basic opinions on the artwork, storyline and dialogue. I've also recapped the plot for each issue below.

Issue #1: Much like the beginning of any zombie movie, Rick wakes from a coma to find the hospital deserted and the world overrun with zombies. He makes his way home in the hopes of finding his wife and son, only to be greeted by a random man and his son squatting in the neighbour's house. They save him from a zombie, and he provides them with a car and artillery from the police station he used to work at. Rick makes his way to Atlanta, on the hunch that his wife and son may have sought refuge at their in-laws' house.

Issue #2: Rick runs out of petrol on his way to Atlanta, and rescues an abandoned horse. He reaches Atlanta only to find it in ruins, and is soon surrounded by zombies who kill and eat the horse. He's rescued by some Asian dude, who brings him to a survivor camp on the outskirts of town, where he finds his wife and son safe and alive.

Issue #3: After reuniting with wife Lori and son Carl, Rick is introduced to the rest of the camp survivors. Former squad partner Shane is one of them, who actually brought Lori and Carl to the camp. Rick is warned by some old dude with an RV that Shane has feelings for Lori, but he dismisses it. Rick and Shane go hunting while the women do the laundry (much to the dismay of Donna), and both groups get a little too up close and personal with zombies. Shane openly shows jealously when Rick hugs Lori.

Issue #4: Rick argues with Shane about moving the campsite, debating that it's unsafe to be staked out so close to town. Rick and the Asian dude (aka Glenn) go into Atlanta to find more guns and ammunition to protect the camp. Lori whinges and argues with Rick about going. Rick and Glenn decide to smear zombie remains on their clothes in the hopes that the zombies will think they're one of them. It works until it starts raining, and Rick and Glenn make a mad dash out of the city with the guns. Shane tries to comfort Lori and reveals that they slept together, which she now says is a mistake since Rick is alive.

Issue #5: Everyone on the campsite is learning to shoot properly, and Lori is being a grumpy bitch over Rick letting Carl learn to shoot and carry a gun. Donna is being a bitch over the old man Dale living with 2 young girls in his RV. Shane is being a bitch over Rick dictating how to run the camp. While everybody shares their life stories over the campfire, the camp is slowly surrounded by zombies. One of the 2 young girls is bitten and killed, and Jim is bitten too.

Issue #6: The survivors bury Amy, and Jim gets sicker as he begins to turn. Rather than being shot, he decides he wants to be left to turn in the hopes that his family may have turned as well. Shane begins to show signs that he's slowly losing it, carrying on with his irrational assertion that the army will find them in a few days and everything will be okay. He attacks Rick twice, with son Carl stepping in and shooting him dead the second time.

It's hard to review the storyline of a series without finishing said series in its entirety, but I'm going to try! At the end of Issue #1 the author Robert Kirkman explains that this isn't a zombie satire, nor is it just another horror comic aimed at grossing out the audience. It's more of a character study, aimed at examining how society and individual characters break down in response to the zombie apocalypse.

In that respect, I think the creator has done a great job. We get to see Shane becoming more and more irrational, as it becomes increasingly apparent that he's just not coping. Rick quickly steps into a leadership role, and his 7-year old son matures incredibly quickly in the space of a few issues. Lori attempts normalcy, which really means just bitching at her husband like there aren't more important things in life. Similarly, Donna just becomes even more bitchy and petty than she presumably was before the zombie epidemic, bitching about anything and everything. I like that we get to see a bit from the kids' perspective too, with a young girl clearly suffering depression over the loss of her father.

As much as I'm enjoying this character study, I have to admit that some of the characters are getting on my nerves. I generally like Rick, but I feel he turned into a leader far too quickly, and I dislike how he's practically dictating how the camp should be run. He was there 5 whole minutes before he started giving orders, and I shared Shane's anger when Rick told him that they needed to move the camp. The camp was incident-free before Rick showed up, and it bothers me that he's treating the other survivors like they're morons who couldn't breathe and walk at the same time before he got there.

I'm also really annoyed at Donna and Lori. I personally hate it when people bitch about women being disadvantaged but don't do anything about it, so I automatically took a dislike to Donna during the laundry scene. Then she was hating on the younger women in the camp out of jealousy, which runs opposite to the feminism view she was promoting earlier. Then when one of these younger women died she did a 180 and proclaimed her love, which I just found to be fake. I think Donna is a petty bitch, and wouldn't mind seeing her get offed soon.

I also think Lori is being bitchy and annoying. At first I liked her because she pwned Donna when she was being bitchy, but then she became just as bad as Donna. She bitches at Rick about everything, and then when a life or death incident happens she's suddenly apologetic and loving. It bugged the shit out of me when she bitched at Rick over Carl being allowed to carry a gun, then she was too much of a pussy during the zombie attack and Carl had to save her ass. I'm really hoping her indiscretion with Shane will come out soon, and Rick will pwn her.

Also, has anybody else noticed that Lori is quite ugly? None of the other characters seem unattractive, but the way they've drawn Lori is hideous! I'm unsure whether this was intentional or not, but it fits with her bitchy personality. She reminds me of Judith from Two and a Half Men. :| Lori aside, I'm generally enjoying the artwork in this series. It's a big leap from Biomega with it's scribbly rushed style and indistinguishable panels! I think the artwork is very cartoony and quite happy looking, which is amusing when contrasted against the zombies and gore.

I have one other criticism which lies in the dialogue, and may or may not reveal my inexperience with comic books. When characters are talking, random words are often put in bold for emphasis. I get it, this helps the reader with intonation. But I've found that words are often put in bold that don't need to be, putting the emphasis in the wrong place and making the sentence sound awkward. I've read several sentences over before saying to myself "yep, that still sounds awkward no matter how I read it". It's not a huge gripe, but something I feel should've been picked up in editing.

The zombie apocalypse premise has been done a million times before, and I can't claim that the creator is doing anything spectacularly original with it, but I'm still interested to see where it goes. As soon as I start a text about zombies or aliens I wonder how it'll end and I figure there are two options: they annihilate the human race and we're left with a very bleak outlook, or the government makes a miraculous comeback and wipes out the zombies/aliens. I'd like to see a third option thrown into the mix, like a middleground between the two.

Overall: It's an unoriginal premise, but The Walking Dead series is an interesting character study into how people cope in the wake of a zombie apocalypse. The artwork is interesting, with a cartoony happy vibe juxtaposed against zombies and gore. Some of the characters are irritating and the dialogue a little awkward, but it's easily overlooked. I'm interested to see where the series heads and how it's eventually wrapped up.

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03/03/2011 page 1
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