Clementine: Book One is the first in a trilogy of graphic novels set in the world of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead that continues the coming-of-age story of the character of Clementine who was first introduced in The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series video game. Clementine: Book One is 256-pages long and was written and illustrated by the Eisner and Ignatz award-winning author Tillie Walden (Spinning, On a Sunbeam, Are You Listening?). Clementine: Book One was announced on 24 June 2021 as one of three graphic novels that would form the launch line-up of a new graphic novel imprint called Skybound Comet which would be targeting Young Adult (Ages 12 ) and Middle Grade (Ages 8-12) audiences. This article will contain spoilers for Clementine Lives, Clementine: Book One and Telltale Games The Walking Dead.
Clementine was introduced into The Walking Dead as a playable character in season one of Telltale Games The Walking Dead (2012). Clementine is just eight-years-old when the world is devastated by the zombie apocalypse. After being left orphaned, Clementine is found by Lee Everett, a convicted criminal who vows to protect her from the dead. Lee keeps Clementine safe until he is bitten and dies. After his death, Clementine uses her memories of Lee to help her survive in the post-apocalyptic world, and travels far and wide to find new groups of survivors to team up with. Her journey is a long and difficult one, with much violence and death. In Clementine: Book One she is now 17-years-old and haunted by her traumatic past.
Lee Everett rescued Clementine and became her caretaker in the early days of the zombie apocalypse .
I have been a fan of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead and the Telltale Games video game spin-off series for years. Clementine has been one of my favourite Walking Dead characters for a long time. I loved her character growth in the Telltale games and the father-daughter bond that she develops with Lee. When Telltale Games shut down, I was devastated, because I knew it meant I wouldn't be getting anymore Clementine stories. When I heard last year that Clementine's story was going to continue as a graphic novel series, I was so excited. Clem was BACK and she was STILL.NOT.BITTEN.
I thought that Clementine: Book One was a great book and a wonderful spiritual successor to The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series. I thought that Tillie Walden had a really good understanding of Clementine's character and life in the Walking Dead universe. In the video games, Clementine becomes the guardian of a small child named Alvin "AJ" Junior when she is just 10-years-old. Clementine keeps AJ alive and teaches him to be safe. In the final Telltale game, after years of wandering the road, Clementine and AJ join a community of teenage survivors living at an old boarding school and make a home for themselves there.
In July 2021, a short comic was released called "Clementine Lives", which marked Clementine's comic book debut and acted as a bridge between the Telltale Games series and the Clementine graphic novel series. In the comic, Clementine is now 17-years-old, and decides to leave AJ with the other survivors at the school and return to the road by herself. When AJ demands why, she tells him that she is not happy, and feels like he is safe at the school. She tells him she is heading north and the two of them share a tearful departure. Clementine: Book One picks up after the events of Clementine Lives.
I never read Clementine Lives, so when I read Clementine: Book One, I had no idea what had happened to AJ or why Clementine was back on the road by herself again. Was he dead? Did something happen to the survivors at the school? The more I read, the more I understood. Clementine was back on the road not because something bad had happened to AJ. She left behind because she knew he was safe. Clementine was left orphaned by the zombie apocalypse when she was eight-years-old and has been fighting to survive ever since. The moment she knew AJ was safe, she had a panic attack, because she doesn't know the difference between living and surviving. Clementine returns to the road not because she doesn't care about AJ or his wellbeing. She abandons him because she is a traumatised 17-year-old kid who is confused and frightened about the world she has grown up in and where her life is leading her. She is tired of being the strong and responsible one. All she wants is for Lee to find her again and keep her safe but he can't do that because he is dead.
Lee kept Clementine safe and taught her how to survive .
I noticed there were a lot of bad reviews of this book written by people who thought that Clementine would never abandon AJ and questioned if Tillie Walden had played the games and really understood her character. After reading the book, I think that not only does Walden understand Clementine's character, she understands trauma as well and what it does to a person. Clementine was just eight-years-old when she lost her parents and the dead rose. She was robbed of her childhood and her ability to go to school and have a normal life. She was just ten-years-old when she started caring for AJ. It is a miracle that she managed to keep him safe and was able to teach him how to survive.
I think Clementine's decision to leave him behind at the school makes a lot of sense. Clementine didn't leave him behind because she didn't care for him anymore. She left behind because she is a deeply traumatised kid who doesn't know the difference between living and surviving. It is unfair to expect her to be his mother. The moment she knew AJ was safe in the community, she felt like her job looking after him was done. She returned to wandering the roads alone because fighting to survive is all she knows. In one scene, Clementine tells another survivor that when she isn't fighting to survive, she is so bored. In another scene, we see that Clementine has almost forgotten how to read. Her memories of her old life are fading. All that remains is trauma, guilt, frustration and a deep sense of loss. Who is Clementine if she is not fighting to survive?
I thought that Tillie Walden did a great job with Clementine: Book One. I can't wait to read the next book in the series and see where Clementine's travels take her next.