Graphic novels/comics have never been something I’ve really been into. Correction: english-language graphic novels and comics. Because in fact, being a native French speaker, I grew up reading a fair amount of the French variety of comics, bandes dessinées. These are typically resemble more graphic novels in that there will not be monthly issues like for comics, but each tome will feature a self-contained story or a self-contained part of a story. This is just to say that of late I’ve felt the desire to rekindle my love for bandes dessinées and get acquainted with graphic novels. Not knowing much about these things and not wanting to spend too much time researching the ‘best’ place to start, I decided to jump write in and so I purchased copies of Kick-Ass and the first volume of The Walking Dead for the simple reason that I’d seen the movie adaptation of one and TV adaptation of the other, liked them both, and thought it might be interesting to discover the source material. So below you’ll find my short reviews for each. This is my first attempt at reviews of this kind, but I hope to do more in the future.


The Walking Dead, Volume 1: Days Gone Bye

The Walking Dead tells the story of a group of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world in which an unknown virus ravaged the population turning them into zombies. Hence, the walking dead. Rick wakes up alone in a hospital bed, recovering from a bullet-wound injury, to find the world completely changed. No one seems to be around apart from the walking dead, and they aren’t exactly friendly. Desperate to find his wife and son, Rick encounters other survivors, a father and son, who point him in the direction of Atlanta where supposedly the government organized the protection of the population. Upon reaching the city, it quickly becomes evident that things didn’t go as the government and military planned, as the city is filled with walking dead, with no survivors in sight. Appearances are deceiving, however, and Rick quickly falls in with a group of survivors. The Walking Dead essentially chronicles this group’s fight to survive.

Having seen - and loved - the AMC TV adaptation of this series, I knew, in broad terms, what to expect. Yet I was pleasantly surprised to discover the ways in which the original graphic novel was different from the show. This first volume of The Walking Dead is a very interesting read, it’s entertaining, it’s fun, but it also incorporates deeper reflections on human natures and the duress of survival in a world that is nothing like what you’ve ever known. Tony Moore’s stark, black and white pencil lends an appropriate soberness to the novel while maintaining a very defined atmosphere for the story. On the plot side, Robert Kirkman shows himself an excellent storyteller, with sharp, quick dialogue that keeps the story moving and some well though-out zombie action.

The Walking Dead is highly readable, even for those like me who are not the most familiar with the graphic novel medium. Those who watched an enjoyed the TV series might find it worth their while to revisit Rick & co. and see how they fared in the original version of this tale. I very much plan on picking the following tomes (a staggering 12 other volumes published to date). Look for reviews of those on LBR in the future.


Kick-Ass

In Kick-Ass, Dave Lizewski does what many have though to do before but never actually done: he creates his own superhero persona and goes out to fight crime. He calls himself Kick-Ass. Very quickly his not-so-deliberate exploits at kicking criminal ass go viral and he becomes an internet sensation. Thing is Dave doesn’t know what, exactly, he’s getting himself into and things might just get bad for him if he continues to be Kick-Ass.

Kick-Ass, in a way, is the answer to a ‘what if’ question that has plagued superhero fans for decades: ‘what if I dressed up as a superhero and fought crime?’ Millar’s response is very post-modern in nature, a sort of evaluation of how we see superheroes and what really makes a superhero while never straying too far from the humorous, action-driven nature of many comic books. Dave is a very realistic representation of your average high school geek, and his desire to become something or someone is told in a heartfelt and tactful way. John Romitra Jr.’s illustrations accompany and bring to life Millar’s story well in brilliant, sometimes gory, detail. Kick-Ass is a lot of fun for sure. The wittiness of the dialogue and the well-built plot will keep you well entertained.

I can’t say I was disappointed with Kick-Ass. Even knowing the story from the movie it was great fun to revisit it in the graphic novel form. I found myself enjoying Millar’s writing very much. Kick-Ass is a part of his own, author-owned, ‘Millarworld’ which sports a few other graphic novels in the same vein as this one which I also plan to check out. Kick-Ass, though, is a very recommendable read. Much like with The Walking Dead, you don’t need to be a comic book geek to enjoy this graphic novel and I suggest you pick it up, even just to give it a try.

Links:
Mark Millar's Website: http://www.millarworld.tv/
Robert Kirkman's Website: http://www.kirkmania.com/

Buy The Walking Dead, Volume 1:
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Bookdepository.co.uk

Buy Kick-Ass:
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Bookdepository.co.uk