You can really tell in this volume that Kirkman wanted a chance to explore as much as possible about the human psyche in times of extreme crisis - when the Id starts to take over (and survival instinct sets in). One of the (many) things that makes this title work is the way the reader can relate to the characters - they are everyday people - me, you, our friends, our family. We get the feeling from the first page of the first volume that if in fact the world were to be contaminated by some sort of zombie plague, and society as we know it were to be completely wiped out - life might not be too dissimilar to Kirkman's vision in The Walking Dead. This is one title where i rarely catch myself calling bullshit as i read it - in general the characters have a very "real" feel to them, from what they say and do, to the genuine emotion that seems to jump off of every 3rd page. Kirkman pulls us into this emotional whirlwind - and it's hard to get out once you've started. i wasn't able to put down any of the first 3 Walking Dead trades - blowing through each in one sitting.
Another huge plus for me is that Kirkman doesn't get attached to his characters. You definitely get the feeling that no character except Rick is "off limits". Kirkman is constantly wigging me with the events in this book - just when you think it can't get any worse or surprise you any more, he drops the other shoe and you're sitting there half-stunned, half-grinning. There were a few times when i had to just put the book down for a minute (i'm sure anyone who's read this can name the parts) and stare at the ceiling - i LOVE when comics do that to me (Thanks RK).
There is so much depth to the surviving characters and the story now, and so much has happened to our dysfunctional band of survivors - it's hard to even imagine where Kirkman will take us next. I tell you one thing though - i for one can't wait.