Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Review # 86: "The Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 1"

The first compendium collection of "The Walking Dead" is a gripping page-turner that - remarkably - leaves me unsure if I want to keep reading and absolutely sure that I will never watch the TV show.

This monstrously oversized 48-issue trade covers the beginning of Rick Grimes' journey (which I've touched on already in a previous review) up to what many consider is the creative peak of the series as his crew defends its new converted jailhouse home. Even though a lot of people are vaguely familiar with what happens during this time, I don't want to touch on it. I consider it a blessing - having not watched the AMC show - to have been completely taken by surprise by everything that happens. That will not be the case for TV fans.

Still, they should read this book. It's clear that there are significant differences between the source material and the adaptation. Speaking with fans, the biggest discrepancies I'm aware of centre around the runaway choice for the best villain, the Governor. I am confident his most heinous acts didn't make it to AMC, and rightfully so. The consequences of those actions wouldn't have a prayer of making the air either. I actually find it a little funny that from a kiddy cartoon to a prime time drama, comic writers keep finding ways to go too far for their target audience when it comes time to adapt it.

Despite the shocking brutality of this book and its excellent work at creating tension, my favourite parts come when nothing is happening. The societal questions raised during quiet times for me are more compelling than anyone getting killed. Sadly, by the end of the compendium I find a lot of deaths are just happening for the sake of having someone die. In the final arc of the giant collection, it reaches the point where Robert Kirkman cuts his nose off to spite his face.

I can understand how he's trying to go with some form of realism in this fantastical madness, but in the span of a few pages I feel he makes some horrible decisions from a storytelling standpoint. A large contingent feels "The Walking Dead" never recaptured what it had going in the final few issues of this book, and I can see the reasoning. Some of what happens leaves me wondering not so much what's next, but rather "what's left?" That is not good at all. Hence my reluctance to go on.

Still, this compendium tells one hell of an overall story. While it leaves me feeling bitter, this is still some damn good entertainment well worth what is a bargain-basement price. You can find this for 40 bucks! That's tremendous value.

Just... don't hold your breath for a review of compendium number two.

Rating: 8.5/10

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