Tag Archives: The Walking Dead Vol. 27: The Whisperer War

Panels of Awesomeness: The Walking Dead #162

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Charlie Adlard (Pencils), Stefano Gaudiano (Inks), Cliff Rathburn (Gray Tones)

THE SCENE: Thousands of zombies plod toward Alexandria.

WHY IT’S AWESOME: The Walking Dead isn’t doin’ much for me these days. They’re shaking up the status quo by introducing a new community and a bunch of new characters. But for yours truly, it’s hard to avoid a sense of “been there, done that.”

This week I got to thinking about the last time the series really wowed me. The above two-page spread from The Walking Dead #162 jumped out almost immediately.

Whether you call them zombies, walkers, roamers, or something else entirely, after all these years it can be pretty easy to take these things for granted. By this point in the series it’s been so long since the outbreak that the characters have, by and large, learned to cope with the presence of the undead in their day-to-day lives. We’ve seen them stabbed, shot, and maimed in so many different ways. At times they almost become an afterthought.

From a story perspective, an easy way to deal with that is to just throw in lots of them. Naturally, The Walking Dead has done this a bunch of times. A big group is usually called a horde. But that word doesn’t quite cut it here, does it? Rick actually sums it up the best…

One of the elements that makes this image so amazing is its depth. It just goes on…and on…and on. We start out with our typical level of gory and shadowy detail in the foreground. Then as we move further into the shot, you can literally count the heads. Until you can’t. It just becomes a blur of decaying flesh and bone.

What seals the deal and really makes this image horrifying is our looker on the left. The backs of a bunch of people’s heads aren’t scary at all. Especially if the threat is moving away from you. But that one straggler is looking out at the reader. He’s looking at you. He sees you. His eyes, dead as they may be, make you a part of the scene. They allow you to feel a piece of that abject terror our heroes do. With one raspy grunt and a turn, he can start a domino effect that can bring that entire ocean of the dead crashing down on you. Note that there’s one walker on the right hand side whose eye we can see just slightly. There’s your second domino.

Ironically, even in an ocean of the dead, it’s still the little things that scare us the most.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

A Review of The Walking Dead, Vol. 27 – Negan Rises, Lucille Falls

TITLE: The Walking Dead, Vol. 27: The Whisperer War
AUTHOR: Robert Kirkman
PENCILLER: Charlie Adlard
COLLECTS: The Walking Dead #157#162
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
PRICE: $14.99
RELEASED:
March 1, 2017

***WARNING: Minor spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The biggest thing I took away from The Whisperer War? That the Saviors were a tough act to follow.

That’s not to say they aren’t interesting in their own way. It’s hard to not be interested in a group that wears zombie flesh and rejects the idea of civilization. But the Whisperers are to The Walking Dead what Bane was to Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies. On his own merits, Bane was pretty damn evil in The Dark Knight Rises. But the Joker left such an impression on you in The Dark Knight that anyone else paled in comparison. Like the Joker, Negan made a very violent, vile, and personal impact on our heroes. But he was also uniquely charming. That’s why in many ways he’s become the star of the book.

More than two years after their war with the Saviors, Rick Grimes and our network of survivors are once again prepared to fight. But this time the enemy is very different, and the heroes have far more resources. But the Whisperers have something at their disposal  that could destroy everything Rick and the survivors have built: An army of the dead.

The most interesting aspect of this series since the time jump in issue #127 has been Negan’s quest for redemption. But we aren’t exactly sure if that’s his true motivation, or if he’s playing some kind of long game. Either way, we’ve gotten to see him from a few different perspectives. First as a prisoner, then an unlikely confidant for Rick, now a sort of comrade-in-arms.

Negan’s famous baseball bat, Lucille, is unexpectedly shattered in this book. It’s actually sad, in a silly sort of way. More endearing is the burial and eulogy he gives it in issue #162. As many of us know, it’s not really about a damn baseball bat. But seeing his personification of it come full circle is a neat little window into his heart.

On the subject of matters of the heart, Maggie has a great character moment. One of the newer characters, Dante, has been crushing on her for quite awhile. In this book he puts his cards on the table, but Maggie says she’ll only ever love Glenn. When he presses her on being alone for the rest of her life, she simply says: “I’m happy when I think of him. I’m not asking you to understand. I don’t care if it doesn’t make sense to you.” I love that. It’s unconventional, and it’s a great moment for fans who miss that relationship.

Artistically, the strongest issue is #162. Penciller Charlie Adlard, inker Stefano Gaudiano, and gray tone artist Cliff Rathburn give us a gorgeous two-page spread of the largest herd of walkers we’ve ever seen. But I also love the faint smile Adlard draws on Negan when he apologizes to Lucille for naming “a stupid f***ing baseball bat after you.” He also gives Rick a tremendous terrified look when he realizes the big hoard is coming.

The fire sequence in Issue #161 is also particularly strong. After an attack by the Whisperers, the Hilltop is burning. We see Carl nearly die after rushing back into a burning building. And for pure badassery, it’s tough to top Lydia kicking a zombie as the flames roar behind them.

The Walking Dead also shifts to a 16-panel grid for this volume (shown right), giving the book a much more dense feel at times. If you’re not used to seeing this layout, it can take some time to get used to. I once heard Gene Ha say it’s best to read a comic book twice, once for the story, and a second time just to absorb the art. That’s certainly the case here. I can’t imagine how much extra work this creates for Adlard, Gaudiano, and Rathburn. The books don’t suffer for the change, though. That’a a testament to the talent at work here.

I don’t know whether Negan is playing the long game. Be we know one person who is: Robert Kirkman. The Whisperer War is clearly a smaller piece of a larger puzzle he and this crew have been assembling since issue #127. Thus far it’s not quite as thrilling as what’s come before. But you can’t always judge an image until you can see the whole thing.

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