Comprised of reprints of rare “origin” stories and an original short starring Tyreese, The Walking Dead is Image’s no-brainer selection for its Free Comic Book Day offering, cashing in on the success of the TV series and embellishing the experience for newcomers who are exploring the comics after being hooked on the show. The selections are great, because none of these stories were ever published in actual The Walking Dead comics nor are they in the collected trade paperbacks. (The Michonne story was included in the Michonne special a few months ago, so I’m annoyed I spent the money on that, but what am I gonna do about it now?)
The book follows four major characters, Michonne, Tyreese, Morgan and The Governor, several of whom are now featuring prominently on the show. Morgan’s vignette occurs after the events of the first issue, but the other four four’s take place before they encounter Rick’s group. In Michonne’s we see her as a lawyer the day the outbreak started. She barely makes it home to her boyfriend Mike and his “idiot best friend” Terry. Not understanding what they’re facing, Mike gets bitten and Michonne merely bandages him and they sequester themselves. Of course, Mike turns and attacks Terry and the pair become Michonne’s “pets” after she makes a discovery about the zombies.
Tyreese attempts to find a gun and a car, but it goes horribly as it is illustrated that he is a lousy shot, something that is more subtly explained in the regular series. We also see how he develops an affinity for his trusty hammer. And it’s further shown just how stupid his daughter’s boyfriend Chris is. (Neither the daughter nor Chris is on the show.)
As I stated, Morgan’s segment occurs after he encountered Rick, but before he came back. It depicts Morgan and his son Duane’s first Christmas after the apocalypse… and after Morgan’s wife’s death, which he mentions briefly. What the story really accomplishes, is to show some morality and optimism in the zombie apocalypse. I’m sure we all have the same zombie apocalypse protocol: Clean out Walmart, Super Market Sweep-style. But here, we witness Morgan agonizing over stealing supplies. Apparently, earlier, he used to leave money on the counters, until he ran out. His guilt is based over his assumption that one day everything will return to normal and the proprietors of the various stores will come back and now be missing all that stuff. That’s an interesting vantage point. I never really liked Morgan and didn’t really get his presence, but this fleshed him out quite a lot!
Finally, speaking of Walmart, The Governor and a follower named Scott, are at just that location. Most of the essential items have been taken, but The Governor is after something unessential, fish tanks. You know where this is going. In the comics, The Governor was sort of one-note. He was just sick, twisted and evil. David Morrissey’s performance on the TV show has been much more subtle and multilayered. Here we get a glimpse into his psyche that, in some ways, explains his instability.
I mean hell, it’s free! But despite it consisting mostly of reprints, at least they’re rare reprints, featuring four characters that are generating buzz due to their roles on the TV show. I know for a fact that prior non-comic readers are flocking to comic shops seeking The Walking Dead after digging the show. Even though it’s not a super hero series, it’s accomplishing what the super hero movies aren’t, creating new comic book readers. Hopefully this issue will draw in a few more.
THE WALKING DEAD – FREE COMIC BOOK DAY
Written by Robert Kirkman
Art and Cover by Charlie Adlard