The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye Review
The premier of the second season of AMC’s new hit series The Walking Dead is right around the corner. But I’m still surprised that so many people are unaware that the show was originally an ongoing comic book series published by Image. The spawn of creators Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore, The Walking Dead is a dark and shocking survival horror series where no character, no matter how important or beloved by fans, is safe from death.
Police Officer Rick Grimes is mortally wounded while trying to apprehend a crazed shotgun wielding hillbilly. Somehow Rick pulls through and survives the injury but slips into a coma during his recovery. Time passes and Rick eventually wakes up alone in a hospital bed. Left staggering though a corpse filled hallway, its not long till Rick comes to the conclusion that the world he knew has come to a bloody end. With the help of other survivors, Grimes begins his journey to find his wife and son all while being constantly chased by decomposing ghouls whose only desire is to feast upon his flesh. But even if Rick manages to find his loved ones how and for how long can they survive in a world where order has completely crumbled? How can anyone survive in a world where the living have become far worse than the walking dead?
Created by George A. Romero, the modern zombie has been used as a creative vessel to comment on the very real social problems of the times. The zombies of the now classic Night of the Living Dead (1968) were manifestations of Cold War terror. It even showcased the erupting tension brewing between white and black Americans all across the nation. Dawn of the Dead (1978) spoke more about materialism in American culture. Even current Romero inspired horror films aren’t free from these hidden messages. Oscar winning director Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later (2002) showed how a crazed PETA like organization will undoubtedly cause the downfall of humanity. Okay, I may have been joking about that last one…but I think you get the point.
Writer Robert Kirkman decides to focus more on the working class survivors of the zombie apocalypse instead of the scientists, doctors, and soldiers made into protagonists in so many other entries in this horror genre. The cause of the zombie plague has no relevance, the characters of The Walking Dead are only interested in surviving. Kirkman isn’t writing about social problems, he’s simply writing about people and how they too can be monsters in their own way.
The artwork is provided by Tony Moore, who I find to be a very talented draftsman and storyteller, but is sadly misplaced in this dark and gritty story. Moore does an amazing job at illustrating the details in the decaying monsters of The Walking Dead but his protagonists are drawn in such a cartoonish stylized manner that it kind of kills any suspense in some of the scenes. In one issue, Rick is cornered by a pack of hungry “roamers” but is saved by a young Asian man named Glen. I want to cheer for Glen, I really do, there aren’t many Asians in comic books. Sure, there are a few, but a large majority of them are either a ninja, samurai, or computer genius. Glen is far from any of those stereotypes – but I can’t help but notice that the character is so obviously based on Short Round from Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. Whenever I see a panel focusing on Glen I can’t help but hear the words, “Okie dokie Doctor Jones. Hold on to your potatoes!”
Days Gone Bye is the first volume of the series and I sadly find it to be a weak introduction to possibly one of the best horror comics in decades. Too much time is spent on setting up everything that the reader already knows. And it seems a little too convenient how fast Rick manages to find his family. It’s not till near the end of the collection that the series find its strengths in characters as well as its emotional center.
The Walking Dead series is much like its starring monsters. The stories move incredibly slow but when it finally gets its hands on you, you’re going to be torn to pieces. Give the series some time and it will definitely be well worth the read.
Final Score: 6 out of 10