The Walking Dead #173 Review

The Walking Dead has more or less circled back around to where it was in the aftermath of “All Out War.” Once again, things are looking up for humanity as our heroes shift focus from the immediate battle for survival to their ongoing effort to rebuild civilization. The tone is more optimistic, even as it becomes clear there are new threats lurking on the horizon. That status quo is still compelling, though it does begin to raise the question of how much the series has actually accomplished with arcs like “The Whisperer War.” Does the narrative really need to be quite so cyclical?

That problem is exemplified by the return of Beta and the Whisperers in this issue. As promising as these villains were starting out, they didn’t really live up to that potential in “The Whisperer War.” It seemed that Robert Kikrkman and Charlie Adlard might have the opportunity to change that with Beta’s sudden return in issue #172. Sadly, that doesn’t pan out. The initial confrontation between Jesus and Beta offers a welcome dose of dramatic tension (especially in light of last month’s breezy, unencumbered chapter), but the payoff is lacking. That encounter eventually transitions from one of violent tension to unexpected comedy. At this point, it doesn’t seem as though the Whisperers will ever become the villains they could have been, especially as the focus shifts firmly towards the next big bump in the road.

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