The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore (Illustrator) | Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)
The Walking Dead is--and always will be--one of my all time favourite comics. Days Gone Bye proves to not only be one of the most compelling first installments to what appears to be (on first read) one of the best releases in recent years. Admittedly the first few are fantastic but lack a little bit in comparison to future volumes. That doesn't make Days Gone Bye any less than it is.
The thing about zombies in popular fiction is that a genre (more than one, really) bends to fit a certain story type and often the tropes just don't work. In that sense, it's kind of like all warmth has been sucked dry from the tale and it becomes the zombie they are writing about. The Walking Dead has never had that problem--and hopefully never will.
What always strikes me about revisiting Days Gone Bye is that it always feels like what's old becomes new again. It's an introduction to this world the characters are forced to survive in but it also gives that glimmer of strength and perhaps a bit of hope. Looking back at this you can't help but to feel a bit of nostalgia because it's more than just another end-of-the world rundown story.
It's about fighting for your life and living out as best as you can in the terrible circumstances. There's an effortless flow that is coherent and full of that spark storytellers depend on. More than this, the artwork and story go hand in hand without overshadowing one another.
Rick Grimes is one of my favourite characters in both the graphic novel and the television series and looking back on his, shall we say, origins, is always a treat. Seeing him and his family reunite after he awakes to a whole new (and terrible) world never gets tiring. Because he has always been that sort of character you are automatically pulled to. The scene towards the end of this volume always gets me. That moment where Carl fires a gun and Rick embraces him--sniffles.
It just gets me every-damn-time.
Fans of the television series will find something different in the story that started it all. While the adaptation is a solid one (and one of my favourite shows on air) it still is quite different. But it's still a damn good series beginning and neither ruins the experience of the other.
I do, like a lot of people, wish that this was in colour but there's something fun and retro about the art that reminds me of older zombie films that were incredibly well written. Days Gone Bye is exactly like a classic film; it's intriguing, spooky, a little gory and a whole lot of fun. Superb writing, a world of darkness and fantastic characters--it's a can't miss story and if you haven't hopped on the train just yet, what the hell are you waiting for?