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Customer Review

220 of 243 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Epic In Every Sense, August 24, 2010
This review is from: The Walking Dead: Compendium One (Paperback)
When I heard that AMC was going to produce a television series based on the zombie epic "The Walking Dead," I was both concerned and delighted. A bona fide classic in undead lore, "The Walking Dead" graphic novels are brutal and surprising--not really what I would picture for a basic cable TV show (the first season is slated for 6 episodes, we'll see if it goes beyond that). But AMC has produced terrific and prestigious shows like "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad," so I'm pretty stoked to see what they do with this. Add Frank Darabont of "Shawshank Redemption" fame as the creative force behind the show, and we just might have a winner! In anticipation, I've gone back through the volumes of "The Walking Dead" to discover again the many pleasures that this series has to offer. The Compendium Collects the first Eight Chapters listed below--a great value but a MASSIVE book!

Note: While the following synopsis does not necessarily reveal major plot developments, it does chart the narrative progression of the story. If that is not something that interests you, please don't continue.

"Chapter One: Days Gone By" is the jumping off point--and, in truth, sets things up in a fairly typical way. After being involved in a shoot-out, cop Rick awakes from a coma isolated, but not alone, in a local hospital. Apparently, in the time he was out, something has shifted in the world and now the dead walk. The chapter introduces Rick and many other principles as he tries to figure out what is happening as he crosses the state to locate his family. On the outskirts of Atlanta, Rick is reunited with his wife Lori, son Carl, and police partner Shane with a group of other survivors. At this stage, hope is still alive and people are just waiting to be rescued and order restored. While the set-up has been quite familiar, the chapter highlight involves a very real human betrayal that redefines the mindset of all involved. A lot of characters are introduced to set the basis for the rest of the story. Good, with an emotionally charged finale, this is a worthy introduction that gets our band of survivors on the road.

"Chapter Two: Miles Behind Us" picks up with Rick, Lori, Carl and the entourage seeking out refuge. Having given up on immediate rescue--the group now just pursues safety. This section is most notable for the introduction of Tyreese, a natural leader who forges a strong alliance with Rick. The group stills thinks that they can wait out the zombie problem if they can just find somewhere isolated and secure. A gated community seems just perfect and the group is thrilled by the prospect of some normalcy. But all is not as it seems, and "The Walking Dead" establishes that no one is safe. Chapter Two destroys what little innocence is left in our band as they face their first real losses as a new unit. It is well plotted, well orchestrated and genuinely harrowing as the group come to understand that safety is an illusion. While Chapter One was an effective plot set-up, this one really sets the tone of danger. Excellent.

"Chapter Three: Safety Behind Bars" finds our ragtag band of survivors moving into a new safe haven. This one has real promise--it's a well secured prison. While Chapter Two has forced us to confront the fact that no one is safe, new hope springs alive. Still wary from their encounter on Herschel's farm, the group extends an olive branch to the family to share the safety of their new digs. So a community starts to form again and the group begins to grow with the newcomers as well as four inmates that were alive in the prison. Building a safe structure takes the primary focus of this chapter but all the new people are still wary of trusting one another. Jockeying for dominance and leadership, this bloody good chapter makes us confront that the zombies are not the only dangers inherent in the new world. With murder, suicide, and betrayal--its starting to get harder to determine the good guys from the bad. And in true cliff hanger fashion, the safe haven may be slipping from their grasp--or actually, it may be ripped away!

"Chapter Four: The Heart's Desire" wraps up the prison cliff hanger from the previous chapter. Among other things, Rick takes another controversial step to defend his tribe. Is he losing his humanity or doing whatever is necessary to survive? As a new character is introduced, the enigmatic warrior Michonne, things start to unravel for Tyreese. Still haunted by his daughters death and what he did in its aftermath, his relationship with Michonne threatens those he is already involved with. The series retains its heart with the continuation of the love affair between Glenn and Maggie including a racy nude scene. But the destruction of Rick and Tyreese's friendship packs a huge wallop. Easily one of the more dramatic chapters, the series hits an all time high with Rick's "We are the Walking Dead" speech--an absolutely unforgettable moment of raw emotion.

"Chapter Five: The Best Defense" takes things in a new direction. Tracking a downed helicopter, Rick, Glenn and Michonne head off to look for survivors. What they discover instead is another encampment--a whole town fenced off and self sufficient! Perhaps less involving in the initial trek, the chapter picks up with the introduction of the town's "Governor." When our traveling trio discover that their new friend might not be an ally, it's already too late. Most notable for its extreme violence and brutality, both Rick and Glenn suffer severely at the hands of this new madman. Most of the material back at the prison is relatively uninvolving making this a weaker entry in the series. But the danger that Rick in Michonne find themselves in has very real consequences that set up a new storyline for the future. Essential, but somewhat unpleasant.

"Chapter Six: This Sorrowful Life" picks up with Rick, Glenn and Michonne held captive as the ruthless "Governor" tries to extract the location of their camp. Finding unexpected allies in the doctor, his young assistant, and a perimeter guard Martinez--a plot to escape has been hatched. The escape is exciting, but the real action comes when Michonne seeks retribution against the "Governor." In easily the series most disturbing sequences, let's just say Michonne means business! "The Walking Dead" has continually blurred the lines between "good" and "bad" and amped up the moral question of what makes a hero--and within this installment we see one of our protagonists exact horrifying vengeance! Returning to the prison, the camp has been overrun and our heroes must again face a zombie hoard. But in the midst of this, a very human betrayal is discovered and Rick is once again faced with the choice of murder. An action packed volume!

"Chapter Seven: The Calm Before" is a relatively peaceful edition of "The Walking Dead" as the name might imply. A small band rounding up supplies faces down more of the "Governor's" men. Then the group, wary of being discovered by their newfound enemy, starts to become complacent when no sign is of attack comes over the next few weeks. We see normalcy start to return as Rick and Lori confront unpleasant aspects of their relationship, Lori gives birth, Maggie and Glenn consider a family, Michonne starts to thaw, the new "doctor" gets comfortable. But in this peace, one of the crew finally goes over the deep end with unpleasant consequences. Sometimes sweet, sometimes sorrowful--this edition sets up real hope and is really great in furthering the character development aspects of the story. This makes it an unexpectedly strong entry in the series! But all is shot with one heck of cliff hanger!

"Chapter Eight: Made To Suffer" reintroduces the "Governor" and what happened in the aftermath of Michonne's visit. The rest of the volume is an all out assault as the "Governor" and his crew try to break into the prison. With some of the protagonists considering departure, it leaves an even smaller band to deal with the onslaught. Non-stop action fuels this story and there are severe casualties. In a brilliant and bold move, all expectations are thwarted in the bloody confrontation. "The Walking Dead," which has already established itself as an epic in zombie literature, bravely pushes to the next level! Riveting, heartbreaking, and very surprising--nothing will ever be the same after this battle! My favorite so far--if only for its audacity and "take no prisoners" approach!
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 4, 2012 10:00:46 PM PST
Take it easy with the spoilers, man.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 15, 2012 9:53:51 AM PDT
yea, too much info. you don't even need to read the book after reading this "review"

Posted on Mar 18, 2012 9:58:44 PM PDT
T. Rock says:
I agree. Too much information.

Posted on Mar 19, 2012 1:52:44 PM PDT
the show is a gigantic hit! a monster of a show. series three is going to be 16 episodes. the book is great too though.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 23, 2012 6:46:49 AM PDT
CTMCMM says:
I agree with the other commenters. No need to buy the book after that review. Edit that review and start it with "spoilers ahead!"

Posted on Apr 24, 2012 11:12:36 AM PDT
Sean Costa says:
spoiler alert.

Posted on May 5, 2012 9:23:15 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 5, 2012 9:23:43 PM PDT
David Rivera says:
Relax people you can assume that the comment is going to have spoilers when it's that long. It even says that they are listed. You decided to keep reading it. You're still going to read the book and you're still going to like it. Quit complaining. This was a great synopsis leaving me to want to read more of the book I just bought.

Posted on Aug 2, 2012 12:51:58 AM PDT

Posted on Oct 5, 2012 10:55:37 AM PDT
Scott Sloan says:
thanks so much, this review made me roll the dice and buy it. I caught the spoiler warning contrary to other posters and stopped reading when i saw 'em coming. Very insightful, and truly helpful, thanks!!!!!!!

Posted on Feb 27, 2013 8:56:44 AM PST
D. Roland says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]
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Review Details



K. Harris

Location: StudioCityGuy33 at Yahoo dot com

Top Reviewer Ranking: 41