The Walking Dead #1 – Reviews Of Old Comics

blogheaderWith this column, I try to highlight comics before the year 2000. I also try to switch up the comics I review in a order by publisher, DC, Marvel, and Independents. Of course, I throw Legion comics in there at roughly every fourth review because I’m a huge Legion fan.

I wanted to tell you that because I’m going a little more recent with this week’s review. The last time I did this, I called it a Review of an Old-ish Comic. Of course, that was four years ago, and the comic was the same vintage as this week’s comic, The Walking Dead #1. 

I don’t care for zombies. Zombie stories tend to be a series a cheap horror, jump scares, and showing off how good a zombie you can create. The Walking Dead TV show looks to be a lot of that, and given much I hate jump scares, I’ve admittedly never watched a single episode. I started watching the pilot, but the first scene looked to be building up to a jump scare. I wasn’t having it.

Today the thought reached me to try to read the comic. Jump scares are a little less jarring on the page, Tony Moore’s artwork also doesn’t have that style that urges the over-rendering of dead and undead bodies. I also want to be fair when criticizing zombie comics, so here we go.

The Walking Dead #1

November 2003
DC Comics

Writer, Letterer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Tony Moore


Rick Grimes, Sheriff of a small town in Kentucky awakes in a hospital. Comatose after being shot while on duty, Rick finds the world abandoned of all things living and is faced with walking undead, who attack him on sight. He returns home to find his family, son Carl and wife Lori, gone. He meets his new neighbor, who points him towards Atlanta. After retrieving supplies from the abandoned Police Station, Rick sets off to Atlanta to search for his family.


A police officer named Rick is shot during a standoff. He wakes up in a hospital bed, but can’t find a nurse or anyone else on duty. Getting dressed, he explores the hospital, to find a dead body and injured, unresponsive people locked in the cafeteria. They slowly chase him down a stairwell, where he uses his belt to lock an outside door behind him. He walks down the road where he finds the corpse of a bicyclist still responding to presence, just like the people in the hospital, but injured as she is, all she can do is lie there. Taking the bike, Rick breaks down on the road.
Arriving home, he finds it overgrown and abandoned. His wife and son are nowhere to be found. Exploring the back yard next door, he’s struck from behind with a shovel. His attacker, a small boy, calls his dad who drags Rick inside, recognizing him as alive, and not about to eat them.
Rick wakes up and the man explains that the monsters Rick encountered in the hospital are the only things left in the town. Everyone else went to the large cities for protection, just before all media shut off. Rick decides to go to Atlanta to find his wife and son, but needs a car. He invites the father and son to go with him.
They go to the police department where finally, introductions are made. Rick Grimes assures Morgan Jones that he and his son Duane are fine to stay in his neighbor’s house. He also gives him a couple of shotguns from the police weapons locker for protection against the monsters. Rick dresses in a fresh uniform, assuming he’ll be better received in uniform wherever he goes. He also gives Morgan a police cruiser for better protection if he needs to go anywhere. Morgan stops Rick from shooting an undead clawing at the chain-link fence of the police station, because it can’t get in and he might need the bullet later. They leave before the monster gets to the gate, and the two drive off in different directions.
Rick stops on the way out of town where he left the undead bicyclist and shoots her in the head, assumingly in an act of mercy.


I really didn’t hate this. I’m not kidding either when I say I hate zombie stories. However, this reminded me more of Y The Last Man more than it did anything else. Rick wakes up into a world where he’s a survivor, and he takes a moment to completely break down upon seeing the bicyclist. That scene is my favorite part in this issue. Rick seems entirely human in his reaction to this horror of a situation. His resolve in preparing for a trip to Atlanta is a turnaround that only a police officer could do. I doubt if Rick were in any other profession, he could have set himself on his path so quickly. 

The restraint in using the zombies shows a use of long-form storytelling. I have seen Kirkman use that in Invincible. I like this form of storytelling, since it’s something that I grew up with. It’s odd that when that was the standard, I yearned for more contained stories. There’s a place for both. Sometimes, the story will necessitate a longer form of storytelling. The Walking Dead may just be that type of story. 

The art is refreshingly restrained for a zombie story. Had this been created ten years earlier, it would have been a lot gorier, with zombies having an unrealistic amount of decomposition. I don’t even have a problem with doing a close-up of Rick’s eye as he sees the biker. The focus isn’t on the eye, but on the tear coming from it. The shading technique can get a little distracting. It looks a little too digital for my taste. I get immersed in the story and find myself taken out by a highlight or shadow that is obviously computer generated.


The neatest part of this issue is how easy it is for you to read it for yourself. You can get a digital copy for free at Comixology. It’s been reprinted in the Image Firsts collection, making a reading copy affordable. Of course, you can also get it collected in The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye and The Walking Dead Omnibus Vol. 1

Final Rating: 8.5 (out of 10)