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The Walking Dead #162

Review by Paul Bowler

Rick Grimes and his fellow survivors face their darkest hour in The Walking Dead #162 from Image Comics as the final battle with the Whisperers begins. Maggie led The Hilltop to victory during the Whisperers devastating attack on her community, but Barrington House is now a smouldering ruin. Now, as Eugene risks everything to deliver a much needed consignment of ammunition to Alexandria, Rick and Andrea plan their next move, but the Saviors are secretly plotting against Rick, and the Whisperers are about to launch their last ditch offensive against Alexandria as the Whisperer War reaches its blood curdling conclusion!

The Whisperer War has certainly shaken things up for The Walking Dead universe as the communities of Alexandria, The Hilltop, The Kingdom, and The Saviors have gradually been drawn into the conflict with the Whisperers. There have been plenty of shocks and surprises along the way. Dwight has really stepped up to the plate during this storyline, helping train the Alexandrian’s to fight the Whisperers, and the way his team survived the Walker herd by using Whisperer skins was ingenious. Eugene’s ongoing radio conversations with an unknown community slowly began to grow in trust, Carl also risked his life helping to get people to safety when the Hilltop was attacked, and Lydia refused to rejoin the Whisperers – making her point clear in the most spectacular way imaginable. There have been casualties too, most notably Father Gabriel’s gruesome death, and perhaps the most shocking event of all was the unexpected demise of Negan’s beloved baseball bat Lucille during his fight with the Whisperer’s hulking new leader, Beta!

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Robert Kirkman begins to gather the numerous plot threads and communities together in this final part of the Whisperer War. This issue we are treated to some of the series’ most poignant and emotional scenes so far, with Negan mourning Lucille, the reinforcements from The Kingdom arriving to help the survivors of the battle at the Hilltop, and there’s an especially moving scene between Carl and Lydia as well.

The 16 panel page grid is used to great effect once again in this issue. Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard have had so many characters and locations to cover during this arc and this panel layout really plays to their strengths, particularly here in The Walking Dead #162, enabling the issue to strike just the right balance between action, drama, and strong character moments to drive the plot towards its thrilling conclusion. The artwork by Charlie Adlard, together with Stefano Gaudiano’s exceptional inks, and grey tones by Cliff Rathburn delivers some brilliant set-pieces: including Negan’s poignant moment of reflection, the sweeping vista depicting the aftermath of the Hilltop battle, and a terrifying Walker horde that will make your jaw hit the floor!

You might be forgiven at one point into thinking that this storyline is winding down a little too conveniently at one stage, with Eugene, and then Dwight and his team, returning to Alexandria, but there is a gnawing sense that all is not going as well as it seems, and sure enough, Rick’s instincts prove horrifically right!

The Whisperer War has been one of the most epic, bloody, and violent storylines we’ve seen in a long while in The Walking Dead. If you thought the title had been coasting along a little in the aftermath of All Out War, then this issue will certainly change all that with its game changing finale scenes, and you will be left in no doubt that the zombie apocalypse is really going to heat up now in the wake of what Beta has unleashed.

So, get ready for some exciting times ahead as The Walking Dead celebrates Image’s 25th anniversary next month, with The Walking Dead #163, an bigger issue than normal at lower price of 25 cents, and then The Walking Dead #164 that also ships in February!

Publisher: Image

Writer: Robert Kirkman / Art: Charlie Adlard / Inks: Stefano Gaudiano

Grey tones: Cliff Rathburn / Letters: Rus Wooton

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