Reviews: The Walking Dead

A Middling Soap Opera for Dudes.

The Walking Dead is a comic about a band of people who struggle to survive in a zombie apocalypse. I've read the first 48 issues and feel no need to continue.

The thing that kills this comic for me is that there is no point, no real theme and its arcs never builds to a satisfying or worthwhile conclusion. The main characters only ambition is to survive each day and they tend to do a bad job of it. Characters are introduced, they engage in a whole load of buffoonery like running from zombies and sleeping with one another, and then get killed off. You can argue that the lack of any real point, theme or endgame is "supposed to be that way" or "the comic is meant to be nihilistic" but that's giving the writer too much credit. This is just a gory, aimless soap opera and if you removed the zombies most people would be too embarrassed to read it.

Every so often Rick, the leader of the group, goes off on a spiel to his people about how "We have to stick together" or "We gotta stop fighting and start living". I grew to despise Rick for his insipid pep talks, because almost immediately afterwards something horrible happens to the group, rendering Rick's speeches worthless and hollow.

I found the Governor villain underwhelming as he is merely a murderous rapist who is limited to only two interactions with the main characters. There is no time given to setting up any conflict between the main characters and the Governor's people. It's just two encounters bookending a whole load of dead air.

The art is solid in the first volume but takes a hit come the second with a change of artist. It gets better but it's hard to tell apart Scruffy White Guy A from Scruffy White Guy B in a darkened room at night in a black-and-white comic.

I haven't read past the first 48 issues, and for all I know the story may turn into the forbidden love-child of Alan Moore and Naoki Urasawa, but it simply isn't worth slogging through a thousand pages of dross to get that far.

I've played the first season of the Telltale game and it tells a far more compelling story than the comic. It's about a man who acts as a guardian to a little girl after the apocalypse and the hard choices he has to make. Regardless whatever faults you find with the game it's a far more lasting and resonant story than the comic's endless tale of mauve shirts and love triangles.