Put simply, the Walking Dead series, created by Robert Kirkman, is one of the most engrossing comic books series that I have had the pleasure of stumbling across. The Walking Dead Book One Hardcover collects the first 12 issues of the Walking Dead series, which introduces the main protagonist throughout the series, Rick Grimes, and the zombie infested world he finds himself inhabiting.

It begins like many a zombie film. Rick wakes up from a coma to find that the dead have risen. His wife and his son are no where to be seen. Rick is a Police Officer, so he is probably as well equipped to deal with a zombie situation as anyone. When he learns that survivors were encouraged to head to major cities for safety, he sets out for Atlanta, in the hope that he'll find his wife, Lori, and son, Carl, there. When he arrives in Atlanta he finds that it has been over run with undead, but soon fines a small party of survivors out the outskirts of the city. Lori and Carl are amongst them.

Rick learns that his former partner in the police force, Shane, escorted Lori and Carl to safety, and it's pretty clear to everyone, besides Rick, that something has gone on between Lori and Shane. As time passes, tension builds between Shane and Rick, with Rick wanting to move the survivors to a safer area, while Shane is determined to stay. This all builds to a confrontation that closes issue 6.

The second main story arc, beginning in issue 7 focuses on the survivors picking up camp and hitting the road. Along the way they are joined by a big tough guy, Tyreese, his daughter and his daughters boyfriend. When Carl is accidentally shot and wounded, the group stumble upon a farm, inhabited by another small group of survivors. Will Carl survive? What is the disturbing secret that farm owner Herschell keeps in his stable? Pick up the book and find out.

If I had to describe the Walking Dead series it would be a Dawn of the Dead soap opera. Kirkham has described the series as being written for those people that have seen the original Dawn of the Dead and wondered what happened to the survivors once they took off in the helicopter. It's an ongoing story of survival, and the first 12 issues at least, are perfect.

Overall I'd give this a resounding 10 out of 10.
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The name George A. Romero is synonymous with the zombie genre. If you haven't yet seen the original film version of Dawn of the Dead, then you are really missing out. It's an absolute classic. In any case, once I learned that Romero had been involved in a comic series, I had to check it out.

"Toe Tags" is a 6 issue mini-series issued by DC Comics, also referred to as "The Death of Death". It was first released in late 2004, no doubt to capitalise on the success of the Dawn of the Dead remake that was also released that year. "Toe Tags" is based on an unused script Romero had written previously as a potential sequel to his "Dead Trilogy".

"Toe Tags" follows Damien Cross, who appears to be one of the few survivors of the zombie plague that has struck down the globe. His girlfriend Judy, has also survived, however the two are holed up in different buildings. Judy is the Lara Croft/Alice character, handy with a pump action shot gun, and hot looking. Fortunately for Judy, Damien has a pet elephant. Apparently a highly trained elephant at that. Mr Tembo, as the elephant is called, is sent on a rescue mission to find Judy and bring her back to Damien. It would seem that Mr Tembo is a kick ass elephant, because before you can shout "Dumbo" three times, Judy is safe and sound, yet slightly shocked. Damien is not the man she'd left behind. He's now a zombie, but he's also undead with a difference. Thanks to his eccentric zoologist friend, Damien was administered an experimental serum, that has allowed him to retain both his free will, and his memories. In other words, besides the rotting flesh, he's basically the same guy. Apparently the serum also stops him from stumbling around muttering "brains... braiiiiiiinnnssss..."

From there, Damien and Judy hit the road on the back of Mr Teembo. The story takes on a survivalist mentality. With Damien and Judy on the run from both the Undead, and the living, who are hell bent on obtaining the secrets to the serum. There are a few twists and turns along the way, but this mini-series is mostly an excuse for the artist to draw as many exploding skulls as possible.

"Toe Tags" is really Damien's story, and follows his struggle to reconcile the 'old' Damien, with the new. He remembers his former life, but struggles with determining who he is, and who's side he should be on. He's sympathetic to both the living and the undead. So essentially he exists as a walking, talking, rotting and conflicted emo guy.

What did I learn?

Never turn your back on an elephant.

"Toe Tags" is worth reading if you're interested in exploring the "Dead" universe further, but as a stand alone story, it's not all that strong.
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