‘The Walking Dead #1 - 10th Anniversary Edition’ – Comic Book Review

Can you believe it’s been 10 years since The Walking Dead comic first debuted? It doesn’t seem like that long. But, then again, that may be because for a fair amount of people, myself included, their introduction to The Walking Dead didn’t come until 2010, with the premiere of the TV show.

Nonetheless, whether you’ve been reading from the beginning, got into it after the show, or (like me) have ONLY seen the show and never read the comic, you’ll be interested to know there’s now a 10th anniversary edition of the first issue available.

To celebrate the anniversary, issue #1 has been fully colorized,, which makes it seem flashy and new, I suppose, but it makes me wonder why. According to Robert Kirkman, the comic’s creator, the black-and-white motif was a creative choice, designed to give it the feel of an old horror movie. Putting it in color feels like little more than a gimmick.

For those who haven’t read the comic, the first issue is essentially just like the pilot of the TV show—except that it moves much, much faster. The bottom of the first page has police officer Rick Grimes getting hit during a shootout. The top of the second page has him waking up from a coma several weeks later to find the hospital deserted. Within another page, he’s dressed and on his feet, and the coma and gunshot wound are but distant memories. And, it’s a good thing, too, because now he’s got zombies to deal with.

At times, this breakneck pace can be a bit unsettling, as it barely gives us time to think. On the other hand, it allows us to cut through needless exposition. Zombies may be a completely new thing for Rick and the world he lives in, but we, the audience, know the basics from decades of pop culture. We don’t need to have it spelled out for us. The TV show, which had to stretch these events out into over an hour, spent seemingly forever trying to explain what zombies were, and why shooting one in the head wasn’t murder. In the comic, Rick is very quick to accept all of that and move on, allowing us to get much more quickly to the meat of the story: Rick going out to try to find his wife and son amidst the undead chaos.

In addition to the comic itself, nearly half of this 10th Anniversary issue is dedicated to bonus features, which provide some fascinating insights into the comic. It has an extended conversation between Kirkman and Eric Stephenson, (originally the Marketing Director of Image Comics, now the publisher), about the history and the future of the comic. It also includes the original proposal that Kirkman made to Image for the series, as well as his initial 5-page teaser. It’s pretty different from the way the comic eventually turned out, and it provides us a glimpse of what The Walking Dead could have been.

As it turns out, it could have been terrible. Kirkman freely admits this. For one thing, he wanted to call it Night of the Living Dead. Yes, really. For another thing, the original pages begin with a news broadcast saying, “The dead are rising from their graves and feeding on the flesh of the living!” After a note of concern from Stephenson that this might be a little clichéd, Kirkman reworked it to begin instead with Rick awaking from a coma.

It’s fairly safe to say that, if you’re reading this, you already have some opinion of The Walking Dead. Even if you’ve never read it before, or seen the TV show, your Facebook and Twitter feeds have no doubt been flooded weekly with conversations about it over the last three seasons—and with season 4 just beginning, those floods of tweets, statuses, memes, etc. are resuming again in earnest. It’s pretty much impossible to escape. So, no matter what, you know of its existence and have no doubt decided whether or not it’s something that interests you.

Maybe you’ve been meaning to get into the comic, but haven’t yet, for whatever reason. This 10th anniversary issue is as good a way as any to do so. Or maybe you’re a veteran fan. In which case, the comic itself will probably hold little interest for you, but the bonus features are still more than enough to make the issue worthwhile. Essentially, if you’re into The Walking Dead, in any capacity, then this issue will probably interest you. If not, then it won’t. Either way, there’s not much I can say to sway you. After all, you’ve had 10 years to come to your decision.

Last modified on Friday, 28 December 2018 17:48

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