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Off The Rack Volume 35: The Walking Dead

October 23, 2018 | Posted by Rob Stewart
The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye
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Off The Rack Volume 35: The Walking Dead  

Hey, remember when The Walking Dead was a good television show?

Wait, was The Walking Dead ever a good television show?

No, no, it was good for a bit. I enjoyed seasons two and three. All the stuff with Shane (starting with when he killed Otis) through the prison’s destruction… that was some good, appointment viewing. After The Governor’s assault on the prison, it all kind of fell apart, though. I kept watching for a while, but it never matched those seasons. I finally gave up on it after the season finale from the first year they were in Alexandria… whenever that was. Season five? I remember watching that finale and genuinely being angry. Just a frustration that the show was poorly written, the characters were spinning their wheels, and all the ideas were rehashed, rewarmed, and served under a new dressing over and over. So I tapped out then and there.

The wife still loyalty watches it, but only because she’s committed now. She doesn’t particularly care, but he is a fan of anything she can binge-watch while paying 50% attention to the TV and 50% attention to her phone.

At least I saw Andrea die. She was the god damn worst on that show.

TITLE: The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye

Writer and Artist: Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore

Publisher: Image

Protagonists: Rick Grimes, Glenn, Lori, Dale, Andrea. Not Darryl. Which is fine; I’ll be honest… I never liked Darryl much.

Antagonists: Zomb—err, walkers. And Shane, that bastard.

Hey, did you know The Walking Dead television program is (loosely?) based on a comic book of the same name? Crazy, right?

I actually remember enjoying the comic for a while, too; though somewhat ironically, I also gave up on it shortly after the prison arc. I don’t think I fell into as much disdain for the book as the show, though… my reading just tapered off naturally.

For this week, though, we are just looking at the very first TWD trade called “Days Gone Bye”. I had almost completely forgotten that the original artist on Walking Dead was Tony Moore, not Charlie Adlard, and you know what… I like Moore’s art substantially more. Not that Adlard is bad, and his grittier, more shaded style probably “fits” the series better, but I just think Moore is a better overall talent. His characters are a lot more distinguishable than Adlard’s, whose figures I sometimes confused because they can all look so similar. And Moore’s less shadowy, more complete art works better for the first trade where there is still a sense of hope and optimism. The book is also in black-and-white, on which I don’t have much of an opinion. It works. Would the book NOT work in color? No. So it’s just an aesthetic choice at that point, and that is fine.

There’s virtually no chance I’m about to tell you something you don’t know, but since there’s always a possibility someone came out from ten years in a bunker and the first thing they do is read my world-renowned series, here we go: The Walking Dead is the story of coma patient Rick Grimes awakening to find that the world has become a walker-infested (walkers is another word for zombies, and zombies are dead people that want to bite you a lot, bunker person) wasteland. Society and the government has collapsed as unending hordes of reanimated corpses feast on the living. After an encounter with a man and his son near Rick’s home, our protagonist is caught up on the plot, and he rushes off to find his family. Which he does, like, SUSPICIOUSLY quickly. I know that “The Quest For Lori And Carl” was never Kirkman’s idea as the driving plot of this title, but it is entirely unrewarding when the second people he encounters upon waking up are his family and the group they have taken in with.

Along with his family, Rick finds his best friend Shane and a cast of characters who would be around for the short-to-long-term. If there’s one thing the AMC show unquestionably did better than the comic, it is the handling of Shane. In both iterations, while Rick was out of the picture, Shane and Rick’s wife Lori start a relationship that ends when Rick returns. A spurned Shane becomes dangerous and unhinged and is eventually put down for the good the survivors. But the comic resolves all of this in the first trade (six issues) with extremely little emotional impact or investment. The show took a slow burn approach, however, and really built Shane as a character, making him substantially more sympathetic. When the moment finally happened at the end of season two, it was more more well-earned.

Anyway, the first volume of the series does a decent enough job setting up the world. You learn right quick not to grow too attached to damn near anyone as a lot of members of the survivor group end up as walker feed in just the first six issues, and the driving arcs of needing to find a safe haven and not being able to trust your fellow man are groomed. Rick is bewildered by the world around him, but he’s not the beaten-down, hypocritical, desperate man declaring “WE are the Walking Dead!” he would become. Carl is such a child here; much younger than he seems as the series wears on and he accepts the world around him (though he never aged as much as the television show Carl did). Before The Walking Dead just dragged on and on retelling the same stories ad nauseam, this first trade was a fun introduction to the world.

Talking Point: What do you think about the use of Black And White for this book? As I said… I don’t think it’s direly necessary, but it’s not unwelcome, either. Do you think the title needs it? Do you think it’s a distraction? Is there any colorized book out there that you think would benefit from being B&W instead?

And while you’re thinking on that, if you want to enjoy more comic book related blogs and a weekly podcast, visit Ghosts of the Stratosphere. Our podcast is full of debates, top ten lists, and comic reviews, and we update daily!

You can also follow us on Twitter, @gotstratosphere for updates!

8
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
The Walking Dead was a legitimately great book at its start, and it would stay that way for some time before it all felt so tedious. Moore’s art is superior to Adlard’s, and the beginning of the tale has some real heart.
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