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There is a new king,
This review is from: The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye (Paperback)
Robert Kirkman is the new King of the Zombie genre. I could care less if it angers the hardcore legions who cling to the flag planted by George A Romero over thirty years ago. In no way does that diminish Romero or his importance any more than the Beatles to Elvis or Lady Gaga to Madonna. I am simply stating that the crown and scepter have been passed.
I've been accused of having a "man-crush" on Kirkman. Don't care. From the moment I cracked open The Walking Dead, I felt I was seeing something special. It was a feeling that hasn't been replicated since that chilly September afternoon in 1979 when I walked into Tanasbourne Mall and took my aisle seat for a double feature (back when theaters showed two movies together). The headliner was actually Beyond the Door, followed by Dawn of the Dead.
For those of you who wait for the comic book run to finish and get compiled into a single volume graphic novel (like me), I will be reviewing all of the Kirkman series. That said, let's start with Volume One: Days Gone Bye.
The story begins very reminiscent of 28 Days Later. Our central protagonist, Rick Grimes, is a policeman shot in the line of duty. He wakes up in the hospital to a world quite different from before. After finding his wife and son gone, he heads to Atlanta thinking that they might've gone to the city on government advice and that is where his wife's family live.
Things only get worse for Rick as he discovers that the zombie problem is far beyond epidemic stage. Shortly after reaching Atlanta, he meets up with a band of survivors camped outside of town. It just so happens that his partner, wife, and son are in this group.
The rest of the story serves as a well-crafted introduction to the cast of characters. There are some distinct personalities in the group and some nicely placed underlying tension. Enough cannot be said about Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn's artwork. He renders an assortment of facial expressions that truly help to convey a range of emotions from smoldering jealousy to snarky disapproval. You really get a vibe from the group as well as the individuals.
Episode 1 leaves the reader in shock. The conclusion is so startling and, when you take the time to ponder it, viscerally upsetting. By the last page, it is clear that you, the reader, are witnessing something special. Day's Gone Bye is a wonderful gateway in a world that Robert Kirkman has masterfully crafted. He does not earn the title King from one entry, but since this is a series of reviews, I will act as spoiler only in saying that by the time I reach episode 5, I'd made up my mind. All hail the new King of Zombie horror.