The Walking Dead Compendium One took me AGES to read. The problem was that I barely had the opportunity to read it. Now you’re probably thinking; “Jack has no social life! Surely he would have time!” As true as that is, I had to be careful when I read it. I’d begin reading it before I went to bed and before I knew it would be 4 o’clock in the morning. Sadly University had to come first. It truly is one of the best comics I’ve ever read and I could not put it down.
First off, I should mention that this mammoth collection is a whopping 1088 pages long. It collects the first 48 issues of the series. The latter 3 quarters of the compendium takes place in the prison. The prison allows the group to feel safe, but people just keep dying! Throughout the course of the compendium, you will get attached to a whole bunch of characters and you’ll hate some just as equally. For example, the Governor. He is one of the most evil, vile disgusting villains I’ve ever seen. He is almost a pantomime level of evil, I was expecting him to pull out a top hat and a twirly moustache. Robert Kirkman manages to avoid this trap however, and he instead comes across as a guy who’s lost everything, a guy who has cracked under the pressure and stress of this apocalyptic world. It’s a nice change of pace to see the group fighting a truly evil character than just fighting walkers. As the tagline to the show says “Fight the Dead, Fear the Living”
We are also introduced to some cool new characters. One of the best (and a fan favourite) is Michonne. Michonne is a bad-ass There just isn’t another word for her. Before she arrives at the prison she had been out in the zombie wasteland with just her zombie pets for company. Michonne quickly becomes part of the group, taking a trip to Woodbury with Rick and Glenn. The three of them get captured by the Governor but it is Michonne who gets the worst punishment. She is beaten and raped by the Governor multiple times. But one of the most satisfying things in this comic is when she finally gets her revenge. I won’t spoil it for anyone but it had me wincing on more than one occasion.
It’s definitely worth mentioning that this comic is NOT for the faint-hearted. It’s full of f-bombs, violence and sex. It’s pretty full on. Also, (because of a behind-the-scenes lawsuit) the art style changes from issue #7 onwards. Charlie Adlard draws a much more realistic and gritty world, and it took me a while to get used to. After a few issues I actually now prefer this new art style. Looking back at issues 1-6 I think it was perhaps a bit TOO cartoony.
I bought this compendium for about £35. Considering it contains 8 volumes; that’s great value. My only complaint about this collection is that the original covers of the comics are missing. On one hand it’s good as it’s the whole story in one collection without gaps in between. But on the other hand, some of the covers were amazing. It’s a shame as they could have included the covers at the back, instead of selling them separately. Ultimately, if you are that concerned with the covers, the wiki has the full collection online. It just would have been cool. That however is my only major complaint.
It would be impossible to sum up the plot of this compendium, so much happens. You get sucked into the troubles of the group straight away, and you keep reading to find out the outcome of these problems. Even the personal struggles of individual characters keep you hooked. I plan to buy the 2nd compendium as soon as possible. Once you start reading about the adventures of Rick Grimes you can’t stop. The great thing about the Walking Dead series is that the show differs from the comic so much that you don’t feel like you’re spoiling anything for yourself by reading ahead.
I could not recommend this graphic novel more. It may not be for everyone but I just adore this series. If you weren’t put off after I mentioned the insane amounts of sex and gore, you should definitely give it a go. You’ll love it.