Wednesday, May 9, 2012
The Walking Dead Review
One of my students started reading my blog (hey, you have to get kids to read somehow, right?!) and commented that 1. I've made some typos (yeah, sorry. I'm pretty strict about proofreading for the kids but I don't always have time to do it myself on the blog. Because I'm busy grading their papers. Seriously. That's for you, Alex) and 2. I haven't reviewed enough graphic novels. So Alex, here you go, this one's for you:
I bought my husband The Walking Dead Compendium One for Christmas after the first season of the show aired. He read it quickly and loved it and of course wanted me to read it. I kept complaining that it was too heavy to carry around. Seriously, this thing is a beast:
I finally picked it up over spring break (clearly this is a delayed review) and literally ate it up. I couldn't stop reading it! I'd already seen all the episodes of the show that had aired up until that point and had taught my mini-term class on zombies so I was in the right mood to finally read it, plus one of my students lent me all the trades up to 13 so I could keep reading after I was done the compendium.
I think the show started off well but this season was slow and irritating. I was annoyed at most of the characters (Lori, Carl and Shane, I'm looking at you) and the stagnant plot. Where's Sophia? Let's stay at this farm and talk incessantly for the entire season. The comics are a whole other story. Beware, many spoilers ahead.
The comic starts the same way as the show, with Rick Grimes waking up alone in the hospital, figuring out what has happened to the world, finding Morgan and Duane and finally making his way to Atlanta where he meets up with Shane, Lori, Carl and the rest of the gang. The show deviated from the comic pretty quickly. Shane barely lasts through the first couple comics, Carol is younger and not married to an abusive man. Instead, there are these boy twins who are the sons of a guy whose name I can't remember and his bitchy wife (Allen and Donna - just looked it up). T-dog and Daryl don't exist (Daryl is the absolute best part of the show), but there are other, far more interesting characters. Dale and Glenn are also around from the show, although Dale is far less annoying and Glenn remains awesome in both the comic and show. It's not long before they meet up with Tyreese, one of the most awesome people in the comic, along with his daughter and her boyfriend.
In the comic, they aren't in the camp outside Atlanta for long. They find a seemingly abandoned suburban community to live in for a bit, but they are soon overrun by zombies and after Donna's death, they leave and find Hershel's farm where they open the barn full of zombies after about five minutes and then leave searching for a new place to live. This is when they find the prison, with four former inmates locked inside the kitchen. They set up camp there for quite a long time, until a helicopter flies over head. Rick, Michonne and Glenn go to investigate and wind up at the creepy town of Woodbury, run by this absolutely awful guy nicknamed the Governor.
I just remembered that Michonne only showed up at the end of the last season of the show. She was the hooded woman with the sword and two zombies attached to her who rescued Andrea. She showed up when Rick's group got to the prison, I think. She's pretty awesome. I hope she's as cool on the show.
Like most comic books, a lot of the action is pretty graphic. The family dynamics switch around a lot as people die and children get shuffled from one "parent"' to another. Dale and Andrea (who is also way better in the comics. She is younger than the show depicts her as and much more interesting) have a long term love affair until cannibals screw everything up (yeah, you read that right).
Essentially, a lot happens. I can't recap every little thing but I do have a few general comments. The comics are in black and white, which looks cool, but sometimes it's hard to tell people apart, like Otis and Herschel (trust me, they look similar on the page), without seeing hair color. Also, Lori and Carl still suck and Rick can get pretty annoying too. It's also much sadder. The stakes are way higher because people die. A lot. By the time I got to book 13, so many people had died that there were only a few left from the original group. Glenn and Maggie, I'm happy to say, were two of them. They're my favorites. I don't want to know what happens to them in the trades (for you non-comic readers, trades are a paperback book containing several single issues) that I haven't read yet. As I said above, the comics are graphic. There's a lot of upsetting violence that's hard to look at sometimes (trust me, the governor stuff will haunt you for a while).
I've said this to a bunch of people but my biggest complaint with the show this season is all the sitting around and talking, although if there really was a zombie apocalypse, I'm sure I'd relish the down time when I didn't have to fight or run. In the comic, the action is pretty non-stop. There is rarely any time for the characters to just hang out. Often they will reference a "quiet couple weeks" but the comic doesn't show that. Because it's published in single issues, they have to keep it interesting so people come back and read more. It's a brutal book in a lot of ways but even better, it's a fascinating look at a post-apocalyptic world and what humans have to resort to in order to survive. I loved it.
If you're a fan of the show, I highly suggest you pick up the series, whether in the compendium form (which collects the first eight trades) or the individual trades (up to 15 or 16 are out now), because it is absolutely awesome and really, really well written.
Buy it at amazon and barnes and noble.