I love collaborative reviews. I have only done a few, but I want to do more. They are tons of fun. This week on the comicsbulletin website, co-contributor Martijn Form and I review the 50th anniversary issue of the best zombie comic book on the planet: “The Walking Dead.” Check it out!
Martijn Form (MF): I have been following this great story since its first issue, and am overjoyed by the fact that Walking Dead made it to issue #50. That’s pretty rare in this day and age. Ariel, when did you jump on the bandwagon?
Ariel Carmona (AC): I pretty much jumped on at around issue #30. I was reading a lot of Image then: Savage Dragon, Spawn, Shadowhawk. I read the first 30 or so in trade format, and I was pretty much hooked.
MF: Did you know that I totally and utterly dislike zombie stories?
AC: [laughs] No, I did not know that, but as you know, you don’t have to be a mad zombie enthusiast to enjoy this series as I am sure you have found out over the course of its long run. What makes this comic so much fun is the characterization of the humans who are stuck in this zombie infested world and how they react to different situations. That, and Kirkman is one crazy bastard. [laughs]
MF: You’re absolutely right. But Walking Dead isn’t really about zombies. It’s all about human behaviour, when society crumbles down.
AC: My point exactly!
MF: How do you adapt to dire circumstances? No electricity. No food supplies. No government. Well, that last part can be a good thing, right? But people you love go missing or drop dead and walk around with gapping wounds. Sure, this book has zombies, but it’s much deeper than that? Do you feel the same way, Ariel?
AC: Yeah, pretty much. Walking Dead would be very boring without the wonderful and realistic dialogue Kirkman gives us every issue. Take this latest issue, for instance. I have to give him a lot of credit for creating such an engrossing psychological character piece. I mean, the whole thing is about Karl running around, trying to survive on his own and pretty freaked out about what’s happened to his mom and dad, but in the end he starts to realize that he can probably take care of himself and that’s a great glimpse on the character. That’s pretty much how it would be if this kid really grew up with so much pain, loss and horror all around him.
MF: From the moment I started to read this book, I saw some similarities with Vertigo’s Y: The Last Man. Not so much story wise, although both societies have an apocalyptic event that makes day to day life hard as hell. Survival of the fittest and all that. The similarities lay in the fact that both stories are so strong with the characterisation. These aren’t comic book characters. They are as real as you and me, with their strong points and their weaknesses. That’s what makes Walking Dead so special to me.
AC: I couldn’t agree with you more, Martijn, and I can see how you can draw parallels between Y: The Last Man and this book. Yorick’s situation isn’t that much different than Karl’s. I honestly think Brian K. Vaughan and Robert Kirkman are two of the most creative and prolific guys we have writing in the industry today. We are lucky to be witnesses to their development, and I utterly loved both comics.
MF: So there it is, issue #50. I think a SPOILER WARNING should be in order here. Ariel, can you believe that Kirkman isn’t fooling around when he warned nobody is safe! Damn, he killed most of the cast that I loved.
AC: Yeah, I think even Rick isn’t a sacred cow anymore, so to speak. I read the letters hacks pretty regularly and people kept saying that Kirkman wasn’t really living up to his “no one is safe” mantra and starting to accuse him of favoring some characters, and he probably got sick of it. I didn’t expect it to go down the way it did though.
MF: And he killed a baby!? Have you ever read a comic book that showed you a baby covered in blood?
AC: I honestly can’t remember the last time, if ever.
MF: This whole issue, I had sweaty hands. I didn’t know if Rick was going to die or not. Man, what a thriller this issue was!
AC: You’re not kidding. The question is where does he go from here? I read somewhere that new characters were going to be introduced, and let’s not forget that Michonne may still be alive somewhere. I’m not sure the old adage that no one ever dies permanently in comics, applies to The Walking Dead. Pretty much once you’re zombie food, that’s all she wrote. It was one heck of an anniversary issue!
MF: If Robert Kirkman decides that you’re dead, you are dead as a doornail. [laughs] Good thing he don’t write the book of our real lives.