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The Walking Dead #158

Review by Paul Bowler

The Whisperer War rages on in The Walking Dead #158 as Beta, enraged after Alpha was killed and beheaded by Negan, sends the Whisperers mighty undead herd to strike back against Rick and his allies. Still mindful of Negan’s motives, Rick allows Negan to help on the front line. The communities of Alexandria, The Saviors, The Hilltop, and the Kingdom will soon face their greatest challenge, but nothing could prepare Dwight’s new military force for the sight of the terrifying Walker herd the Whisperers have unleashed on them…

The Whisperer War: Part 2 begins with the shock death of one of the series’ regular characters, and its one that few could’ve genuinely seen coming. The Whisperers are certainly amongst the most chilling adversaries that Rick and his fellow survivors have ever faced. This unnerving Walker skin wearing group have proved to be as cunning as they are deadly, having already used ruthless terror tactics against those who dared to violate their territory, but with Beta now out to avenge Alpha’s death this issue illustrates just what a force they are to be reckoned with – especially now that Beta’s let loose what can only be described as this apocalyptic worlds Undead equivalent of a weapon of mass destruction: the Walker herd!

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Robert Kirkman skilfully builds the action and tension throughout this issue. It may have taken a while to actually get to the Whisperers War, but now that this new arc is in full swing its sure turning out to have been well worth the wait! Numerous events unfold, taking in Alexandria, The Saviors, The Hilltop, and the Kingdom, as the separate communities react to the current threat in very different, and sometimes surprising ways. There’s also a greater sense of just how tenuously balanced this brave new world that Rick has been striving to establish, really is. One of the big highlights of the issue are the scenes with Dwight and Negan on the front line, the dialogue here is utterly priceless, and the way it spills over into the attack by the Whisperers herd is brilliantly staged.

The Walking Dead #158 features the winning combination of Charlie Adlard’s excellent artwork, Stefano Gaudiano’s inks, and grey tones Cliff Rathburn, in what is arguably one of their finest issues so far. The use of 16 panel page grid is employed once more in this issue, it’s been a good move by Robert Kirkman Charlie Adlard, and works really well in the context of this arc – especially as its been so densely plotted and action-packed in places. All of the different character arcs and geographic locals this issue packs in are deftly handled by the creative team, the action flows seamlessly, and the narrative is peppered with some great character moments. There are so many standout events in this issue: the gruesome death of a main character is probably one of the most visceral scenes I’ve seen in this series for a long while, likewise, the sight of Michonne and Jesus charging into battle is great scene stealer, and the overwhelming power of the Walker herd is also another jaw dropping set-piece as the Whisperers vicious tactics press home their advantage.

We’re only two issues in with this six-part story arc and its already shaping up to be one hell of a game changer. The Walking Dead #158 builds to a rousing close. Battle lines are drawn, Eugene’s radio conversation subplot continues bubbling away mysteriously in the background, and the arrival of reinforcements certainly prove to be a rousing moment. But everything is overshadowed by the anticipation of the mother of all showdowns that’s set up for the next issue, as two of series’ biggest, baldest, heavy hitters face off at last!

Publisher: Image / Writer: Robert Kirkman / Art: Charlie Adlard

Inks: Stefano Gaudiano / Grey tones: Cliff Rathburn / Letters: Rus Wooton

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