As stated in Kirkmans opening blurb, just as you get into a Zombie movie the credits start rollin'! So, here, Kirkman has the ability to avoid leaving the viewer/reader wondering if the victims succeed, by charting the life of protagonist Rick Grimes to the bitter end.
The book kicks of with a bang, as Rick, a small town cop, and his partner and friend Shane, are trapped in a shoot out with an (implied) escaped convict. Rick is wounded and wakes up in a hospital bed. From here the story advances, as Rick wakes up to a nightmare situation and must escape, start over and defend his new life from the Walking Dead.
The story stays strong and consistant throughout, with particular attention paid not to the violence and depravity of the zombie subject, but to the relationships and psyche of the characters. This is not to say that gore hounds won't get thier fix, contained are some horrific scenes. Only it's secondary to character development, which clearly shows mental cracks appearing, and conversley minds strengthining and maturing. This leads to behaviour and actions of characters that you don't expect when they are first presented to you, yet feel natural at the time.
Also worth comment is the art style. Volume one is unique as it opens with a slight cartoon feel, which betrays the dark subject matter and actually takes away from the experience. People and objects seem deformed from real life. However, volume two onwards has a better standard of art direction.
Excellent pacing and dialogue means you will reach the last page before you want to, which leaves a long and agonising wait for the next installment.
The wait is worth it though, for the most modern and engaging horror storys I've ever read.