Written By Combat Jack
I was born to review The Walking Dead, AMC's television adaptation of the Image Comics book about zombie apocalypse survivors. Ever since I watched George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968) when I was four years old, frozen in terror as I viewed the black-and-white death tale unfolding on that Zenith screen, I've loved zombies (and been effed up in the head).
I picked up the first black-and-white issue of The Walking Dead back in 2003, and it was nothing less than banana bread and horse meats, meaning very dope. Written by Robert Kirkman (read Complex's interview with him here) and illustrated by Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard, it showed how screwed up humans are, the foul things we'll do for self-preservation or just schitz and giggles. I was bigging up The Walking Dead way before it became AMC's hottest show ever, and when the Complex boys—for whom I spilled true stories about classic rap songs—peeped my zombie swag on Twitter, they invited me to do a weekly review of the show. So here I am, getting all up in your brains. If you're not watching the series, go kill yourself, come back to life, then kill yourself again. Or just catch up and walk with me as I walk with The Walking Dead...
PLOT: Sheriff's Deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), is trapped in a tank in the middle of an Atlanta, Ga. city street, surrounded by an army of the undead. Nearby, five survivors—Glenn (Steven Yeun), Andrea (Laurie Holden), Jaqui (Jeryl Prescott Sales), Morales (Juan Pareja), T-Dog (Robert 'Iron E' Singleton), and Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker)—are similarly trapped in what looks to be a janky department store. At the same time, camped up in the woods, not too far from where all the action is going down, is a band of zombie apocalypse survivors apparently connected to the survivors holed up in "Jank's" department store. Amongst the campers we find Rick's wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), his son Carl (Chandler Riggs ), and cop buddy/partner Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal), who happens to be sliding Lori the kielbasa in Rick's absence. It's all fucked up as Rick is desperately trying to find Lori and Carl, and neither Lori, Carl, nor Shane is aware that Rick is alive.
ACTION: From racist Merle Dixon calling black dude named T-Dog the N-word then duffing him out to Rick busting guns and axes into zombie heads, there are plenty of tense action sequences. Oh yeah, Shane is also seen piping Lori in the woods, if that's the action you want. I'd have been more excited if she weren't straight butterface.
EFFECTS: For a television show, they don't fuck around with the makeup. Zombies look deader than dead. Like I said, I've been watching zombie movies since I was four years old, and The Walking Dead's zombies are some of the best I've ever seen. This episode is chock full of body parts and whatnot. And the scene where we get a bird's eye view of zombies surrounding the tank—man, that shit is beautiful.
GORE: Lots. Of. It. The episode's title is "Guts," and that's what this baby was all about. We find out that zombies aren't keenly sighted and rely more on the sense of sound and smell. That being the case, our band of survivors come up with the plan of smearing themselves with dead zombie (oxymoron?) guts, so they can smell like zombies and walk past them to freedom. Wielding an ax, Officer Ricky (see what I just did?) goes to town hacking up a corpse, then slathering him and Glenn in goo gobs of what looks like zombie blood, guts, and shits. And to top it off, Rick and Glenn adorn themselves with intestines and feet like them shits was bling. That being said, "Guts" more than lived up to its name. We also get a fine close up of a zombie munching on some dead rat. Yums.
CHICKS: We get introduced to a couple of chicks, but from what I'm seeing, they're all butterfaces. And that Lori, man, does she carry a stressed-out look on her face, like she's constipated and tweaking off blow at the same time. Specifically, she looks like Natalie Portman's ugly older sister. Andrea looks like she ran out of Prozac and has been crying constantly; her face is just a fucking downer. And black chick Jaqui is rocking a Shawn Carter nose and a bad perm. If I was one of the male survivors and was forced to look at the chick selection that they've got here, I might could go and get myself bit by a zombie on purpose. No shots, but I'm saying.
COMIC VS. SHOW: Last week's episode pretty much stuck to the comic script. This one veered a bit off the beaten path, but I'm not mad, as I understand how certain story lines from a book might not translate well on film. What was spot-on was Steven Yeun, who played the Glenn character from the book to a tee. One thing that this episode did introduce, and which is the basis of the book, is the drama that unfolds amongst the human survivors. We get a glimpse of it here with Merle Dixon being all Tea Party racist, but what the book does is portray how much scarier humans are compared to the walking dead. I'm looking forward to the next episode.
COMBAT JACK'S FINAL ANALYSIS: "Guts" was nowhere near as monstrous as "Days Gone Bye," but that's not because it was lacking—the pilot was just unfuckwittable. I understand the necessity in fleshing out (ha!) a series, and "Guts" did that, acquainting us with the larger cast. Plus, considering that AMC didn't scale back on the gore and violence, I'm pretty much committed to riding this first season through. In other words, I fuck with The Walking Dead musically. As you should.
BONUS: T-Dog, the black dude with the outrageously stereotypical Hollywood "homie" name and the played-out Sam Jackson kangol turned to the back, is rocking a classic Vinnie's Styles' Brooklyn T-shirt.
• Complex's Interview With "The Walking Dead" Creator Robert Kirkman
• The 15 Best Ways To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse
• Combat Jack Presents: True Stories Behind 25 Rap Classics