Friday, November 26, 2010

Greg brings you more zombie fun! Now with 5% more zombies.

Like it or not, zombies are popular right now. Look around any store today and you can probably find some sort of zombie-oriented product. Zombie food and zombie toys! Zombie movies, of course. And a slew of zombie books. Including zombie classic literature. It's all the rage. Which is, amusingly, the name of the zombifying virus that is prevalent in 28 Days Later. Personally, I'm all for zombies in popular culture. The more people are aware of the imminent disaster, the better off we'll be when the dead rise and overtake our society. But I digress.

It was only a matter of time before someone did a zombie-oriented television series. The zombie movies, while not Academy Award-winning, have done well at the box office. The Walking Dead, however, was unexpected. Originally a comic series by Robert Kirkman, on the surface, it is just another take on the zombie apocalypse scenario: world as we know it overtaken by zombies, and the surviving living have to escape the widespread undead.

The television series is only a few episodes in, so I can't say too much about it besides the fact that it's fairly true to the comic series thus far, and the additions they have made are in tune with the general feel of the comic. The comic itself, however, is fantastic. The artwork is realistic, the dialogue and plot are strong as well. You learn the personalities of the characters and you grow to either love them or hate them. And then the zombies inevitably eat them.

That's the thing about the zombie movies: once the big survivor group dwindles to a mere few, and those mere few escape, the film ends. But in truth, their story doesn't end there. The zombie population doesn't suddenly vanish after the events of a film. The comic does a great job of showing the ongoing struggles and horrors of survival. In a zombie film, the characters who survive until the end often make it there thanks to luck alone. In the Walking Dead comic, even the luckiest characters eventually get unlucky. Kirkman makes it abundantly clear that no one is safe. Including children. It's pretty intense.

The interesting part about the series is that the zombies are not really the antagonists, but rather the medium in which the true, living antagonists find themselves performing their evil. I would have to go back and review to say this with certainty, but I can safely say the ratio of zombie kills to living kills is skewed in the way of the living. Stressful situations make people do irrational and terrible things, and Kirkman does not shy away from showing that.

All that said, it's an amazing comic series. We have some of the issues in the store right now, the first being prominantly displayed on my rec shelf. How will it translate to the television screen? Well, so far, it's pretty good. Violent, dark, and thoroughly entertaining. Will the television series stay completely true to the darkest parts of the comic? Only time will tell.

The Walking Dead, both the comic and the television series, are not for everyone, and certainly not for kids. But some teens and adults will appreciate the concept of a smarter zombie series. And when the dead rise, they will be the most prepared.

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