Title: The Walking Dead Compendium #1 – Days Gone Bye
Written by: Robert Kirkman
Art by: Robert Kirkman & Tony Moore
Published by: Image Comics
Release Date: May 19th 2009
As a fan of both The Walking Dead television series and video game series developed by Telltale, I felt that it seemed odd I had never read the comics. The stories created by Robert Kirkman are where the series began. Where the cult following started, that in turn morphed into a global multi-medium phenomenon. So I got my hands on the New York Times bestselling first Walking Dead Compendium and will review each of the 8 chapters over the course of the next few months. So that fans who like the show or the games (like myself) can work out whether the source material is something of interest to them.
The art itself is phenomenal. Each panel clearly depicting an adequate level of tone and feeling, while transitioning from scene to scene with a good sense of flow. The simple design of character faces, the use of body language, and the characters framing within the panel allows for the reader to get a distinct understanding of the emotions felt and the relationships between characters. The art, however, gets particularly detailed when focusing on Walkers. Highlighting the grotesque husks they call bodies, and their slow-moving menace. The art alone is enough to keep your attention and truly amplifies the immersion within the narrative of the Walking Dead Compendium.
The initial premise itself is relatively similar to the television series. Officer Rick Grimes is caught in the midst of a shootout, after ordering his partner to cover him and attempting to flank the suspect at hand, Rick is seriously wounded. He then wakes up from a coma an unknown amount of time later. He soon realizes the hospital is deserted and that the world has succumbed to some kind of strange disease. For the first chapter, the dialogue is relatively believable, with at times a few instances where characters seemed to launch themselves into topics without being prompted or spoke in an odd manner, just to convey some backstory or narrative foreshadowing. The pacing itself was the only thing I really took issue with. And even then I’m unsure if that is the fault of the comic or a fault of my own. At times I was shocked to see that entire scenes from the show were conveyed through a single page in the comics, however, unlike the show, the comics never dawdle. They cover the points that are necessary and keep the ball rolling, unlike the show where they stop and start to fill screen time with unnecessary filler and unwanted character backstory.
Spoilers ahead – If you want to avoid spoilers, ignore the bold font.
What happens and what’s different from the show?
The plot of the first chapter is relatively similar to elements of the show’s first season. Rick wakes from his coma and stumbles into the new world. He runs into a man named Morgan and his son who enlighten Rick to the weeks he missed in the hospital and aid him in acquiring a car, weapons and his police uniform. Rick then heads towards Atlanta searching for his son Carl and his wife Lori. He reaches Atlanta, thinking it’s a safe zone, but instead finds it infested by hundreds of the Undead. Rick escapes thanks to the aid of a young Asian man named Glenn. Glenn takes Rick back to his camp outside of town where to his delight he is reunited with his wife, son and old partner Shane. Rick assimilates quickly into the group and after a member of the group Donna is attacked, Rick and Shane begin teaching everyone how to use Firearms. The rest of the chapter includes group bonding, a daring mission by Glenn and Rick to acquire more firearms from the city, and many disagreements between Shane and Rick over whether they should stay put or move elsewhere. Just like in the television series a horde of Walkers attack their caravan one night, killing Amy and infecting Jim.
However, there are some differences between the comic and the TV series. The story of Morgan’s wife is completely skipped over and Carol’s husband seemingly committed suicide rather than still being around like he is on the show. But the biggest change of all, was Shane’s sudden outburst at Rick, pointing a gun in his face and then being killed by Carl (who attempts to defend his father). It was incredibly surprising to see Shane seemingly killed so early on when his television counterpart lasts all the way to the end of the second season before being taken down by Rick.
So to conclude, as a lover of the show and avid fan of the games, I enjoyed my time with the first chapter of the Walking Dead Compendium. The art is stunning and the story itself loses some of its flares through sharing an overall plot with the TV show but does enough differently to keep me guessing. For more on The Walking Dead TV series, Video Games and comics, stay tuned to Thenerdstash.com