Review of The Walking Dead, Vol. 27: The Whisperer War by Robert Kirkman

Life After the Zombie Apocalypse is Nasty, Brutish, and Short.

You…probably know what is going on in Vol. 27.  I would warn about spoilers, but what is there to spoil that hasn’t already been spoiled by the title and the cover?  Still, some spoilers.  Chekov’s gun came down off the mantle in Vol. 26 and started a war.   And a war we get.  Unfortunately, unlike the last one, this one doesn’t make a dang bit of sense.

The Whisperer War collects comics #154-162.

The good news is that the good guys know a lot about the Whisperers.  They clothe themselves in walker hides, passing undetected through their ranks, herding them, and lashing out with knives against the living.  And they have a herd of thousands of walkers.  The bad news is that the characters either forget, ignore, or fail to communicate all of this.

It’s hard to express how bad the plan is.  Rather than hunker down, they drain settlements of soldiers.  Those soldiers then gather in a sensible position, but make no defensive fortifications whatsoever, not even of the most rudimentary sort (how effective would even a 1-foot ditch be against walkers?).  They apparently use only a single scout.  When they do get attacked, somehow they can no longer keep back from walkers.  And they don’t account at all for the Whisperers.  (Rick’s grand plan for the herd was to, well, herd it.  Which would be a good plan, but for the Whisperers.  Thankfully they don’t actually try to do this.)

They do get smart pretty quick after they start falling back.  Later, a settlement is attacked without warning and by new tactics.  One, again, you are terrible at reconnaissance.  Two, the tactics maybe shouldn’t be a surprise when you have a defector.  But Lydia just spends her time telling Carl how hopeless it is, and no time telling him what the Whisperers might actually do.  Even if she thinks it is hopeless, you would at least think self-preservation instinct would cause her to try to put a thumb on the scale.

You shouldn’t be able to sneak up on a settlement at any time, certainly not during war.  There should be a sizeable watch.  There should be patrols outside the walls.  Trees should be cleared in at least several hundred feet in every direction.  Preliminary defensive measures should be added in between the tree line and the wall.  Ditches and barricades would really slow walkers down.  Isn’t that where you want to make a stand against walkers?  Slow them down as much as possible so you can pick them off.  Whisperers don’t really change that.  They just force you to fight the dead (they make it too risky to herd) and make melee more dangerous.

There is a point, I think, that two years of peace have made everyone soft.  It’s a stupid point, unless two years of peace also made everyone stupid.  And I continue to resent the presence of Negan, who only remains alive because Kirkman couldn’t bring himself to kill off such a popular character.

There is some good there, though.  The inter-settlement politics are about to get really interesting, I think.  I remain intrigued by whoever it is that Eugene is talking to.  Yeah, like that’s going to end well.  The dynamic between Lydia and Carl was the highlight of the volume.  It’s marred by the stupidity behind it, but there is a lot of really good action in here.

3/5 Stars.

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About H.P.

Blogs on speculative fiction books at Every Day Should Be Tuesday.
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