In the case of a zombie apocalypse, most reasonable people might opt to hide in a fortified bunker or at least a well-stocked mall; not many would invite the undead into their homes for dinner. And yet, this Sunday millions of eager viewers will do just that for the third season premiere of AMC's Emmy Award-winning The Walking Dead. Based on the long-running comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard, the new season boasts a whopping 16 episodes, larger than both prior seasons. Bring on the brains!
For viewers unfamiliar with the plot thus far, jumping into The Walking Dead this weekend isn't as scary as its subject matter. Spoiler-free synopsis: police officer Rick Grimes awakens from a coma to find the world overrun by zombies. He eventually locates his wife and son on the run with a band of survivors, and the group struggles with inner turmoil as much as the undead gnawing at their heels. But just in case this isn't enough for newcomers, or maybe fans of the show need a little something to chew on in between episodes, publisher Image Comics has a pair of collections to sate the hungriest of appetites.
The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 2 is the follow-up to the bestselling Volume 1. Both giant paperback collections boast over 1,000 pages each of the comic series, serving as an easy grab for readers who want to sit down with a brick full of zombie stories. These are great companions to the small screen adaptation, allowing readers to follow along and note where the show diverges from the comic. Plus, stacking both books atop one another might make for a good doorstop should the undead come calling.
For the more discerning collector, The Walking Dead Book 8 is an oversized hardcover collecting issues 85-96 (note that these issues are also included in the Compendium Volume 2). The hardcovers feature fewer issues than the Compendiums, but they present the artwork on a larger scale and are packaged with more frightening flair. If you prefer to gobble up the stories like Halloween treats, the Compendiums are your best bet but if you want the books to be more conversation pieces, the hardcovers are worth the higher price tag.
Writer and creator Robert Kirkman (see also our Omni interview here) does not limit his creativity to comics. In fact, he recently began expanding his universe into prose form via two new novels, The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor and The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury. These works flesh out characters and conflicts from the comics, building Kirkman's mythos beyond the gray-toned pages where they originally appeared.
In order to truly catch up before the premiere, however, the previous seasons are available on DVD and Blu-ray and via Amazon Instant Video Before sitting down to watch, be sure to set aside a few hours, as the episodes almost always end on gruesome cliffhangers, making it easy to click through to the next installment. Once the creeping dread settles in, viewers will be forgiven for taking a break to check the locks on the doors and windows--just to be safe, of course.