The Walking Dead #2: Miles Behind Us by Robert Kirkman

Another enjoyable volume in The Walking Dead saga, although not quite on par with the first one. For me, there was far too much dialogue. Some frames had speech bubbles that were overloaded, the characters constantly pausing to express their feelings about life in the wake of the apocalypse. I get that the author wants to tell a story with emotion as well as action, but there’s such a thing as overkill. And frankly, we’ve heard it all before, and more succinctly, in George Romero’s movies.

Although The Walking Dead was first published in serialized comic form, there are definite story arcs that fit tidily into the graphic novel format. Volume 2 tells the tale of the survivors in their camper van hooking up with a small farming family, only to discover that the father has gone a bit batty. Chaos ensues. The thrust of the story covers similar ground to themes already expressed in Night of the Living Dead (being unwilling to kill your zombified loved ones) and Dawn of the Dead (storing the undead instead of killing theme). Although entertaining, it all felt a bit like filler material between volumes 1 and 3. Although I’ve never read 3, I think I can say this because 2 ends on a note of promise that leaves you wanting more.

The Walking Dead #1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman

Zombies are very much in vogue these days, whether it’s computer games or movies, you don’t have far to go before coming across rotting flesh that gets up and walks. The Walking Dead is a graphic novel, and title has to be one of the least imaginative titles of any zombie product. But don’t let that fool you, because the blurb on the back is the biggest attention grabber I’ve ever seen on any zombie story. I quote:

How many hours are in a day when you don’t spend half of them watching television? When is the last time any of us REALLY worked to get something that we wanted? How long has it been since any of us really NEEDED something that we WANTED? The world we knew is gone … No government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV. In a world ruled by the dead, we are finally forced to start living.

Now, you zombie fans, doesn’t that just knock the pants off about 90% of the zombie movies you’ve seen. Well, the blurb is only the promise of things to come. How does the story deliver?

We get off to a fairly unoriginal start, in a scene reminiscent of the start of Resident Evil: Apocalypse, with an injured police officer (Rick) waking up in a hospital bed only to discover the place is deserted. Of course, it’s not long before Rick has his first encounter with a flesh-hungry walking corpse. The bulk of the story concerns a bunch of people who have formed a small community in the woods, and their initial struggle to survive. There’s a strong human element, with friendships, romance, grief, betrayal, etc. Most interesting was the struggle to change – to let go of the old way of living and embrace a way of life that demands more courage. The zombie battles are there too, but the story is thankfully never allowed to degenerate into a typical gore fest with no greater aim than the highest body-count.

I thoroughly enjoyed this volume and am looking forward to reading the next one.