Rebecca’s #CBR4 Review #24: The Walking Dead 1-2 by Robert Kirkman et al.
The Walking Dead, volumes 1 and 2, set up the world of the story. Rick, the main character, awakes from a coma in a hospital to find it evacuated, and zombies everywhere. Right away, the world is set up – not just the rules for the zombies, which are traditional, not 28 Days Later zombie rules – but exactly what will be at stake. For the purposes of The Walking Dead reviews, I will generally group them into sets of two, as they seem to be divided into thematic story arcs along those lines.
It is quickly established that The Walking Dead, while telling suspenseful stories, will also be about the ways that a zombie apocalypse changes good people, making them desperate and sometimes violent. It changes what people are willing to do. It makes childhood nonexistent, as children carry guns for their own protection, see the adults around them making life or death decisions, and know that they will have to do the same.
In the first two volumes, Rick finds a father and son, Morgan and Duane, holed up for protection in his own home. He leaves the relative safety of their position behind to try and find his wife and son. When he finds them, outside of Atlanta, they are already part of a camp of survivors – one that includes Shane, Ricks’ former coworker at the sheriff’s office. The camp eventually has to move, finding a family farm that seems like a good place to stay. As will become a pattern, Rick fucks it up by thinking that he knows what is best and being kind of a dick about it.
There’s a lot of plot in these two volumes (as there is in the entire series so far) but the larger themes seem to be twofold: figuring out what needs to be done to survive in the world with zombies around, and adjusting to a life that is constantly on the road and never really feels safe. The end of the second book sets up a new paradigm as the group finds a fenced-in prison, a potential safe haven.
Overall, The Walking Dead is pretty compelling; it is suspenseful and populated with a good amount of diverse characters, many of whom I almost instantly started rooting for. Sometimes the characters give voice to broad themes in monologues that are a bit on the nose thematically, but also reveal a complexity and a willingness to let character develop slowly.