The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman – Comics Review [Bane of Kings]


Bane of Kings reviews the first volume in The Walking Dead comic series, Days Gone Bye, written by Robert Kirkman and published by Image Comics.

“A great take on the zombie genre. One of the best.” ~The Founding Fields

  Having recently read the first issue of The Walking Dead as it was free on Comixology (you can find my review here), I was interested to see where Kirkman took the series in the future. I naturally seized the chance when it was available on NetGalley, and The Walking Dead Vol. 1 became my first NetGalley title that I downloaded this year, having finally worked out how to get the files onto my IPod to read. (Despite the fact that I ended up reading this on my computer anyway). After a brief re-read of the first issue, we continue the adventures of Rick in the post-apocalyptic zombie wasteland that was once the United States. Things start to become a little clearer now, and the audience is swept along in the post-apocalyptic tale that begins to explore the characters as much as it does the zombies.

An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe, causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months, society has crumbled: There is no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV. Rick Grimes finds himself one of the few survivors in this terrifying future. A couple months ago he was a small town cop who had never fired a shot and only ever saw one dead body. Separated from his family, he must now sort through all the death and confusion to try and find his wife and son. In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally begin living.

The Walking Dead Vol. 1 introduces us to a savage new world. The Government has collapsed and it’s up to a band of desperate survivors to well… survive. I love how Kirkman has explored the characters in this Volume as well as the world that Rick has woken up to find himself in, and what measures they will go to survive. It’s a zombie story that focuses as much on the characters as it does the walking dead, and creates a brilliant opener that will leave readers wanting more.

Told in black and white format with no colours, The Walking Dead manages to be a fast read and keeps the reader hooked. Kirkman establishes a simple storyline in these collective issues that is easy to follow, and like most zombie novels, focuses on a small group of survivors, doesn’t have a wide range of dramatis personae for you to keep track of. The pace is even, and the Volume is told in a way that just wouldn’t work if the artwork was in colour. It’s much better off in black and white.

After you’ve read this, it’s easy to see why The Walking Dead is so popular. It’s even a TV series, which sadly – I haven’t seen. Kirkman manages to quickly set up the fact that you don’t want to get too attached to any one character, as anybody could bite the dust. That’s when you can tell that a post-apocalyptic zombie tale is done right. You want to get the feeling that even the main character can die, and nobody is safe. Kirkman has accomplished this within the first Volume alone, and I’m looking forward to where he leads the reader with the rest of the series. Setting the stage for what’s to come, Days Gone Bye does its job brilliantly.

Kirkman has also managed to create a realistic post-apocalyptic zombie setting here. The characters are authentic and can be related to, and although apart from Rick I struggle to recall their names, I believe that they’ll be fleshed out more in the oncoming volumes. The plot’s interesting, and the storyline is captivating and enthralling. Zombie fans and comic book fans alike should love this, and if you’re not either of those, then you should give it a try. It’s awesome.

I think The Walking Dead, or the first volume at least, is one of my favourite zombie tales, ranking up there with The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell (I haven’t read I am Legend yet, but I’ve seen the Will Smith film), and I will be picking up Volume 2 when I can. This series has a lot of premise, and believe the hype. A modern-day zombie classic.

Verdict: 4/5

The Walking Dead Collected Volumes: Days Gone Bye, Miles Behind Us, Safety Behind Bars, The Heart’s Desire, The Best Defence, This Sorrowful Life, The Calm Before, Made to Suffer, Here We Remain, What We Become, Fear The Hunters, Life Among Them, Too Far Gone, No Way Out, We Find Ourselves, A Large World, Something to Fear.

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer