Okay, before we begin I have a few things I want to say. First, I’ve never done a review of this size before so keep this in mind as you read it. Second, this is a fairly long piece.  Third, I’m not going to be going into a lot of detail on many things. This is more of a primer, the basic plot points are here, many of the anyway, but since the series is still ongoing and people are still discovering it, I wanted to keep a lot of things a surprise for you. I hope you enjoy what I’ve done here and I really hope you check out this series in any of its published forms, you won’t regret it!

The Walking Dead #1-79

Where it all began: The Walking Dead #1 (2003)

Where it all began: The Walking Dead #1 (2003)

Written by Robert Kirkman

Art by Tony Moore (#1-7, Covers for #1-24)) and Charlie Adlard (#8-present, Covers #25-present)

Published by Image Comics

Alright, here’s a “quick” review of the first 79 issues of the hit Image series, The Walking Dead:

Rick Grimes, a small town cop, is shot and slips into a coma. When he wakes up in the hospital the world has changed and the dead walk the earth. He quickly leaves the hospital, after some run ins with the undead, and returns to his home only to find it empty. His wife, Lori, and young son, Carl, are gone. He learns from Morgan, a man who moved into his neighbor’s house to protect his son David, that the government was telling people to go to the big cities for protection and since Atlanta is the closest he heads there to find his family.

On the way he sees more of the impact the zombie plague has had on the world around him. Eventually, he ends up at a farmhouse where he sees the family, dead, inside and notices a barn. Barns are good places for horses.

Riding the horse to Atlanta he quickly learns there are no survivors there: only zombies. Losing the horse to the zombie horde he is saved by Glenn, a young man who is able to get in and out of Atlanta with little trouble in order to get supplies for the group he’s a part of. After saving Rick he takes him to meet the group.

Days Gone By, the first trade, collects issue 1-6

Days Gone By, the first trade, collects issue 1-6

Much to Rick’s surprise he finds his family. It seems right at the beginning of the plague, Rick’s partner Shane took Lori and Carl to Atlanta in hopes of being safe. Also, Shane has the hots for Lori and isn’t completely happy that Rick is back.

Aside from that little bit of drama, we meet more characters: Allen, his wife Donna and their twins Billy and Ben, Dale, Carol and her daughter Sophia, sisters Amy and Andrea and Jim.

As Rick gets re-acquainted with his family he also begins to think about survival. Being close to a major city full of the undead isn’t a smart place to be in his mind. Shane, at first, disagrees and his feelings for Lori begin to play into our little drama as he begins to take his anger out of Rick and his suggestions of finding a safer place to hold up.

A zombie attack thins the numbers by two and the group decides moving isn’t a bad idea and begin to see Rick as the leader. Shane doesn’t take this to and, resenting his loss of Lori’s affections, attempts to kill Rick only to be killed himself by Carl.

The group moves on and, near the end of their food and fuel supply, meet up with Tyrese, his daughter Julie and her boyfriend Chris. Now bigger by three they find the farm of Hershel and his family and neighbors, including Otis, Patricia and Maggie who becomes a love interest to Glenn. It’s also around this time Lori finds herself pregnant and questions arise as to whether Rick is the father… or Shane.

The farm seems safe, at first, until Rick discovers Hershel has been keeping zombies in his barn, something he started doing after his oldest son was turned into a zombie. No longer a safe place Rick and his group decide to move on although some of their number decided to stay.

More traveling until they come across a prison. It seems like a very safe place, or they figure it would be after the zombies are cleared out, so they explore, kill and begin the process of trying to make the prison their home. They find there are 4 inmates still there and try their best to accept them into their number, as long as they co-operate.

After some work the group decides its safe to stay and send for Hershel and the others, offering a place for them if they want to join them.

The hardcover, collecting the first 12 issues

More people are killed while Rick leaves to attend a personal matter and when he comes back he see things are very close to falling apart. One of the inmates has killed some of the others and it isn’t until Andrea is attacked that we learn who it is and Rick deal him some swift and vicious justice.

When two of the inmates decide they want the place for themselves, their sneaking to get weapons opens a part of the prison Rick hadn’t checked out yet and untold numbers of zombies flood out. It’s like Whack-A-Mole with zombies and guns. While they fight to stay alive the mysterious Michonne arrives and shows she can more than handle herself.

After things settle down (again) the group witnesses a helicopter crashing in the distance and decide if there are others alive they have to find them. This leads to Woodbury, a town run by a man calling himself The Governor. Rick, Michonne and Glenn are captured by his men and are tortured, Michonne very viciously, and escape through pure luck and the betrayal of one of the Governor’s men. They escape alive but scarred in more ways than one. The Governor is punished for his attack..Michonne stays behind long enough to see to that.

After Rick and the others return to the prison with Alice, a nurse from Woodbury and Martinez, the man who helped them escape, they see zombies have over run the place. Rick freaks and goes to find his family again. After this is taken care of Martinez takes off. Apparently, his helping in the escape had a second motive: Lead the Governor and his goons to where Rick’s group was hold up. Rick locates him and settles things…in a very permanent manner.

Now we have a new threat and it isn’t zombies, its other people who want to have everything they can find and control it all. Andrea, Tyrese and some others go out to locate a place near Woodbury where they can get some weapons and supplies to protect themselves from The Governor. While getting supplies they decide to cut off The Governor’s supply line and they begin to destroy things which brings the attention of Woodbury.

Omnibus collects 24 issues

While this is going on, Lori goes into labor and Dale is bitten in the leg.

Andrea and the others return and we have a nice moment between her and Dale along with Rick, Lori and Carl welcoming their newest family member to this violent new world. In all the madness, human nature still has a few good things to offer. Some in the group decide it’s best to leave now, before The Governor returns.

The happiness is short-lived, though, as The Governor has found them and wants all their weapons and supplies. He also wants Rick and the others dead.

Once the dust settles, Andrea and Rick are hurt and Glenn, Tyrese and others go to take the fight to The Governor. Tyrese is captured and Michonne is assumed to be dead. Things get worse.

The Governor returns to the Prison with Tyrese as his hostage. He gives Rick a choice: Surrender or Tyrese dies. Things very quickly spiral out of control as the prison is no longer a safe place to be, Rick tries to get his group out of danger and loses more than a few, some are more impactful than others.

Things are really bad now, Rick and Carl now try to find the others who may have survived, they stay in a house for a time. Rick falls very sick and Carl has to face his new world head on in a way he’s never done before. He begins to realize that there may be only one person he can rely on to keep him safe: Himself.

Rick and Carl then find Maggie and Glenn and return to Hershel’s farm for a short time and meet up with Eugene, a man who claims to be a scientist who knows the origin of the zombie plague and is heading to Washington D.C. with Abraham, a hard as nails man who goes to nearly any length to protect him. Also with them is Rosita, who is very close to Abraham.

The Compendium: 48 issues!

After some ‘discussion’ it’s decided that they should all join up and go to D.C. The farm isn’t as safe as they thought as Abraham explains that something as simple as a gunshot will attract dozens, possibly hundreds or more, zombies in what he terms as a herd. Herds are very bad news.

As the group starts its move to D.C. they have a few run ins with some insane people who attack Rick, Abraham and Carl as they search for supplies and return to Rick’s hometown and are reunited with Morgan from the beginning of the series. We learn the fate of Morgan’s son, David.

Now, things get interesting… Ben and Billy, the twins, are still around and have been through a lot of things. Things get very bad for them and Carl gets involved. The group then meets with a priest and is being stalked by another group who kidnap Dale.

Andrea wants to find Dale but everyone else feels it’s best to find a safe place first since they don’t really know who they are dealing it. It could be The Governor’s people again. They go to Father Gabriel Stokes’  church and begin to figure out what’s going on. It appears the whoever took Dale didn’t do so to kill him…right away. They aren’t evil or mean, in their eyes. Let’s just say…they are just hungry.

Rick, Andrea, Michonne and Stokes find Dale and then deal with these people.

They then have to deal with Dale’s condition, and the attack by those people aren’t exactly what I’m talking about. After that, Carl makes a stunning confession to Rick.

Then they learn that Eugene has been lying about certain things and may not be who he claimed he was. Tensions are running high as food is running low and they find a new town that seems to be safe. They are approached by a few members of this new community and, while slow to trust them, join them in a rescue attempt and learn that Washington D.C. is not really a place to go. After a slow process they are welcomed into this new community and begin to find some kind of normalcy in their lives.

They each have a purpose and something like a job, Rick becomes the law of this place, Andrea keeps look out and Abraham takes over the construction of the walls that protect the people from the zombies.

But things don’t always last. A group of thugs tries to take over and force their way in. A short gun fight ensues and it draws the attention of the nearby zombies. They begin to move towards the sounds of the gunshots.

The Walking Dead Weekly

After they drive the small group away the process of cleaning the walls begins. It’s decided that a normal sweep of the walls to kill off any zombies is a good idea. The first time out begins well enough, more than they expected but not too much that it can’t be handled.

Until the herd shows up.

This brings us to The Walking Dead #80 which comes out this Wednesday.

Now, for those out there trying to use the excuse ‘there are 80 issues, I can’t afford to go back and buy them all’ well, there are MANY ways you can get caught up:

1: Trades. There are 13 out now and are all still in print and reasonably priced. Each trade collects 6 issues. Volume 13, Too Far Gone, was released last month and goes up to #78, it was released the same day as #79 to going that route will bring you up to date.

2: Hardcovers. A little more expensive and not as up to date but these collect 12 issues each and are now out with six volumes.

3: Omnibus Editions. These are a little more serious. Priced higher, hardcover and limited print runs. These collect 24 issues each and the third volume is released later this month.

4: The Compendium. Simply put, one volume so far collecting the first 48 issues. I got this for a friend as a Christmas present. It’s big and awesome.

5: Weekly Reprints. Along with #80, this week will see The Walking Dead Weekly #1 which will be Image’s attempt to reprint each issue of the series on a weekly basis. Cover price for each issue will be $2.99.

You have 5 options here. This series is worth reading so I guess all that’s left is to choose which format you want.