Small town cop Rick gets shot on the job, falls into a coma, and wakes up in an eerily quiet hospital. It doesn't take him too long to figure out why, as one rotting corpse after another slowly lurches after him, hungry for his flesh. Desperate to find his wife and son, Rick heads toward Atlanta, hoping they've gone there ahead of him and are safe under the protection of the authorities in the big city. But the zombie plague is neither isolated nor contained, the authorities are nowhere to be found, and Rick soon realizes that if anyone's going to survive, they'll have to make it happen themselves.
I am not a horror fan and normally have no interest in stories involving icky things like zombies (Heather, you are braver than I! hee!). But I've heard so much about this series that I figured I'd be a pretty poor comics lover if I didn't give it a shot. And now I can see why it's so popular. Yes, there are gross, ravenous zombies around most corners and, yes, things look pretty dire for the lucky (?) humans momentarily still alive, but what keeps me interested (and has me putting Book Two on hold) is the book's focus on character over shock value. The individuals who make up the evolving ensemble cast have their own personalities and complicated relationships. Even the most likable and capable characters have weaknesses and the potential for instability. I like that level of realism and find watching them deal with the stress of their precarious situation surprisingly engaging. The story offers an intriguing psychological / sociological study and makes me wonder what I and my friends and family would do if we suddenly found ourselves in the same boat (I don't imagine I'd fair too well in a zombie apocalypse, sadly....).
The gore-minimizing black-and-white art's a nice fit (though I prefer Moore's style over Adlard's) and I give the writing in this series credit for making me voluntarily consume a zombie story that's not parody (Shaun of the Dead = *squee*). It surprises me that I actually (sorta) look forward to seeing what happens to these poor folks next.
I think the popular television adaptation will remain untested by me for now, though, as I don't need to see all that blood and guts in full color or "live" action.... :-P