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BOOK REVIEW: The Walking Dead – Book One by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn

| 12 December 2014 | 1 Reply

BOOK REVIEW: The Walking Dead – Book One by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn

Image Comics
July 2006, $49.95 AUD
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell




Over the next ten weeks, I will be reviewing one Walking Dead book per week, to try and stave off the hunger for more episodes of the show. I will try and keep these a spoiler free as possible, but readers should be aware that a review may mention spoilers from previous books in the series. 

Each one of these books comprises twelve issues of the comic. 


The world we knew is gone. The world of commerce and frivolous necessity has been replaced by a world of survival and responsibility. An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe, causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months society has crumbled: no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV. In a world ruled by the dead, the survivors are forced to finally start living.


Officer Rick Grimes wakes up in the hospital after being shot by an escaping prisoner. No one responds to his calls for a nurse, and when he ventures out of his room, he finds he is completely alone in the hospital. Except, of course, for the dead things that want to eat him.
Barely making it out alive, he goes home to look for his family, but he finds that the town is just as “dead” as the hospital, until a boy mistakes him for a zombie and whacks him over the head with a shovel. Duane and his dad, Morgan, bring Rick inside, give him some food, and fill him in on what happened to the world. And then Rick sets off again, on his way to Atlanta to find his family.

The story brings together a group of everyday people – delivery drivers, students, mechanics, retirees, mums, dads, kids, siblings – as they make their way through this world full of new dangers, in their search for a safe place.

As a long time devourer of novels I never really bothered with comics, until a couple of years ago when I started buying all of the Walking Dead books and powering through them. I believe I was in-between seasons of the show, and desperate for more. I was actually surprised at how easily I got used to the different format, and how little I was bothered by the dialogue being in all capitals. I devoured these books, one after the other, each one only taking a few hours to get through, and then sitting pretty on my shelf until it was time for another re-read.


For those who watch the show, we get some of the things we know and love from that medium in this:

– Rick, Glenn, Tyrese
– Zombies – “Roamers” here, “Walkers” in the show.
– The fantastic “gut walk” through the zombies

But we’re missing some important things, too:

– Daryl, Merle, Beth, Sasha
– Multidimensional characters
– Layered plots

It definitely has its issues:

– Certain things weren’t looked at too closely in the graphic novel, such as the fact that they’re constantly talking about how low they are on ammo, yet frequently engaging in target practice. I understand that it’s important that your people know how to use guns, but you also need the ammo for when you inevitably run into zombies and/or hostile people.

– There are certain limitations put on a story when it is told through dialogue and images only. Sometimes this worked really well, when the reader saw something that the characters hadn’t yet, but at other times the writers had to resort to an “as you know, Bob” method of explaining things so as to inform the reader what had happened during the passage of time. I felt that this also led to less connection with the characters than one would usually find within a novel.

– Often, deaths in the comics come out of nowhere, and are over all to quickly. I think the speed of the deaths, combined with less depth in the characters, means the reader doesn’t feel the loss too much at all. When they do feel a death, it definitely doesn’t compete with the emotion of the deaths on the show.


Despite these issues, the books are definitely an easy, engrossing read, and allow the reader to find out more about the world of The Walking Dead without spoiling the show. The two are different enough to avoid this issue. Things happen in a different order, and sometimes things happen in the show that haven’t happened in the comics, and vice versa.


Definitely recommended for fans of the show, zombies, or comics in general, and a good starting point for someone who hasn’t read comics before.


Review of Book 2
Review of Book 3

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

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