Review: The Walking Dead – Compendium One by Robert Kirkman

So, it’s perhaps a bit unorthodox to do a book review for a graphic novel collection… but I don’t care.

I’ve of course heard many things about The Walking Dead comic series, particularly after becoming a fan of the AMC show last year. I really like the show, but damn near everything I read called the comic series many times better, and there were a large number of people who seemed quite upset that the show was not a frame-by-frame reproduction of said comic.

I have a couple of problems with comics, overall. First problem is that I read too damn fast for comics. When they’re $2 to $3 apiece and I blow through an issue in about 15 minutes, that’s just not a cost-effective type of entertainment. Maybe it would have been better back in the days when they were a quarter each, but those days aren’t now, and I just don’t get enough enjoyment out of a single issue.

The other problem I have is that since I rarely read them, I’m not really connected to that world and type of storytelling. I do enjoy the occasional Marvel film and I like their heroes, but I’m not used to the comic/graphic novel medium at all. I tend to save what little comic reading I do to big compendiums and omnibus collections, since they’re somewhat more cost-effective overall. I did read, for instance, Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men, but that was mostly because it was Joss and I’d just run out of Firefly at the time.

So, with all that being said, let’s move on to the review.

The Walking Dead: Compendium One is a collection of the first 8 volumes (smaller collections) of the series. This covers a fairly large area of the series chronology, and the book was heavy enough that I’m pretty sure it bruised my ribs from reading it in a reclining position.

The first volume, while not exactly the same, is pretty closely tied to the first season of the show, so that kind of felt like watching a repeat. The major difference was that, where some of the scenes in the show were very powerful, the comic felt sort of abbreviated, which at first inclined me more toward the TV show. It’s difficult going from the adaptation back to the original material, because sometimes you end up liking the adaptation more.

After I got past volume one, that’s when shit started to get real, if you’ll pardon the expression.

I love zombies. Man, do I love them. I’ve logged probably close to 500 hours on Left 4 Dead & its sequel, I’ve seen several zombie movies (although I still need to see Zombieland), but I’ve never read or seen anything quite like this comic before. It’s so real, it’s so visceral, and I’ll be damned if it’s not more bloodthirsty and gut-wrenchingly brutal than George Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire.

My plan is to avoid spoilers (although I really, really want to talk about some of them) so I won’t go into any plot stuff. Part of me wants to go start buying the smaller volumes just to continue the story, even though at $8 each I’m going to have a hard time justifying the cost.

Only know this: if you want a frank, bleak and so-real-it’s-disturbing look at the world following the zombie apocalypse, and you haven’t yet tasted Robert Kirkman’s engrossing writing and the stark, black & white visuals of The Walking Dead, you really should read this compendium.

Just don’t get attached to anyone.

Final Score: 5 out of 5. I love this comic – I really do. Read it!!

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