<SOLVED> In case anyone else has a similar problem, I'll give the conclusion. After some intensive troubleshooting, it seems that The Walking Dead Vol. 1 sample is actually a preview of the Paperback version. Hence, Panel View is not enabled in the preview. However, once purchased, the full version has Panel View.
For some reason, Vol. 2 is a Kindle sample, and has Panel View. However, 15% of the time, the windows don't line up with the images. Overall, this is a formatting issue on Amazon's side, and doing a reset or factory reset your device won't make a difference.
This has all been passed on to the necessary feedback channels, so hopefully these issues will be ironed out, especially before the Paperwhite's release in Japan later this year