Now, I haven't read a comic or even a graphic novel in a really long time. Far too long, to be completely honest. And I'm shocked and appalled at myself for not having picked up any of the Walking Dead comics before now...but hey, what can you do, the show was tiding me over. For a while ;) But then it wasn't, and then I was at MegaCon, and I just had to purchase Compendium One.
Now, I knew going into this that the comics are vastly different from the show. Well...okay, there are some similarities, and there may be people who actually believe that they're as similar as they could be considering the two very different mediums. But honestly, the differences didn't phase me much, and I can definitely say that I enjoy both the comics and the show.
However. My one major complaint is basically along the lines of: whoa holy crap was this written by a bunch of MEN. Seriously, can we please get a female comic writer to work with these guys? I know they're out there (female comic writers, I mean), and The Walking Dead needs a female writer. Desperately. Or hey, I'd even be okay - at the very least - with a male writer who actually knows something about women.
I'm not talking about the "gore", or about the terrible things that happen - not even about the awful things that people in this story do to each other. I'm talking about the seriously one-dimensional female characters. I'll say this much for the show - many of the characters got on my nerves at times, and the women most of all - but the sad thing is how much better developed they all were/are compared to the comic book characters. Especially the female ones, and considering how much certain female characters ::cough:: Lori ::cough:: frustrated me in the show...weeell, let's just say that the comic made most of them a thousand times worse.
The artwork itself is good, though the artist who took over after volume one absolutely does not know how to differentiate between females. And although the drawings were rarely so gory as to gross me out, *wow* these comics definitely deserve that "M for Mature" rating ;)
As for the compendium as a physical item...well. Meh. I guess this is partly my fault, but I picked up the one that looked to be in the best condition only to get it back to my room and realize that the pages in the back that told a little Morgan and Duane story were bound wrong. So wrong that they were unreadable. Also, the cover itself is extremely flimsy for a book of this size - despite being seriously careful when reading/carrying the thing, by the time I was done with it the cover was falling apart where it attaches to the bindings (in like three different corners). So generally, I'm just not happy with the construction and if you're planning on ordering this compendium from the internet you should probably be aware of what you're getting (I saw numerous other reviews - mostly on Amazon - mentioning that they received what were supposed to be brand new compendiums but were practically falling apart. And yes, some of them were people who ordered directly from Amazon, not through the Marketplace.)
Anyway, aside from shoddy "construction" and the fact that they could really use a female writer in there spicing things (in other words, female characters) up, I thoroughly enjoyed reading/viewing these comics. I literally couldn't put it down. Yes, it's a very, very bleak take on a zombie apocalypse...but in the words of my dear Sansa Stark (by way of George RR Martin), "The worst ones always live." There's a reason for that. And to be honest anyone who thinks that The Walking Dead is too depressing, too horrifying, blah blah blah etc. etc...is simply fooling themselves into thinking that people are better than they are. (I mean people in general.) So, I'd love to give this 5/5 stars, but because I got tired of seeing the women giving men leadership "because they just wanted to be taken care of" and similar situations, The Walking Dead Compendium One gets 4/5 stars from me.