THE WALKING DEAD #173 is a thrilling issue. We're reminded how strong characters like Jesus are. Robert Kirkman continues to spin a strong plot web, and Charlie Adlard and Stefano Gaudiano's artwork is as stunning as ever.
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Beta returns! After a jaw dropping page in the previous issue, THE WALKING DEAD #173 delivers suspense and intrigue. Will Aaron and Jesus survive their encounter with the Whisperers? Who exactly is Beta? Will Eugene and company finally meet Stephanie in Ohio? How are Carl, Lydia, and Sophia doing? All of this is answered in THE WALKING DEAD #173. Robert Kirkman continues to deepen plot threads, and, while this issue is a quick read, it’s very satisfying in what it delivers.

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A Plethora of Vignettes Fill THE WALKING DEAD #173

Without giving away too many spoilers, the fight between Jesus and Beta is thrilling. In a series where any character can die, it’s refreshing to watch our heroes show their stuff and remind us how amazing they are. Jesus fights off his enemies with such skill and finesse, I found myself internally cheering. There was a moment I thought, “This is it: Jesus is going to die.” Of course, Kirkman’s craft of killing anyone has made me paranoid, but his craft of creating strong characters (literally and figuratively) made me confident in our hero.

Image courtesy of Image Comics

There are minor vignettes in this issue that will most likely lead into larger plots: Lydia expresses jealousy when she sees Carl talking to Sophia; Maggie is brooding over Negan’s freedom and appears to tell Dante a plan; Dwight watches Rick mourn Andrea; and Eugene’s squad finally encounters Stephanie’s group in Ohio. We’re not given enough info out of these moments to make accurate guesses, but it’s clear Kirkman will expand upon them all. The main drama, though, is that of Beta and his group. After Jesus and Aaron deal with them, we meet a family of three who were on the fence about joining The Whisperers. Will they make it alive to Alexandria? Only time will tell. But we do receive some intriguing information: Beta’s identity.

Finding Reality in Fiction

Overall, I really enjoyed reading THE WALKING DEAD #173. It reads quickly — as most issues in this series do — but that’s okay. It moves the plot along, and that’s something that is key in a series that can accidentally meander too long. The action is grand, the dialogue is solid, and the drama is real. My only real criticism with this issue is the idea of meeting these three new survivors towards the end. It’s hard to imagine a family riding solo from any type of group. Obviously this could be an issue Kirkman addresses in the future, but it bugged me. And the way Aaron and Jesus deal with the remaining Whisperers almost seems too easy. Remember when an entire war arc was devoted to them last year?

The Art in THE WALKING DEAD #173

Image courtesy of Image Comics

Per usual, Charlie Adlard and Stefano Gaudiano do a phenomenal job depicting this dystopian society. I particularly like how The Whisperers are shown. They’re at a small camp, but smaller than the base they had before “The Whisperer War.” Adlard draws the tents as raggedy sheets, and the clothing The Whisperers are wearing appear so tattered and worn. Gaudiano’s shading gives depth to the scene, making the woods behind them seem deep and ominous. It’s a simple scene, but these two add so many layers to it, causing the reader to gaze upon the page longer than the words require.

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What to Expect in Future Issues

THE WALKING DEAD #173 is an exciting issue that finally gives us what we’ve been waiting for: the meeting between Stephanie and Eugene, and Beta’s whereabouts. While we only got a taste of the first bit, the reveal of Beta’s identity and desperate plans are real page turns. It seems obvious that Kirkman has plenty of stories in him that will take this series far into the future. His world is expanding, and, with the help of Adlard and Gaudiano, it seems certain that THE WALKING DEAD will continue shocking us fans and toying with our emotions. It’s stressful, but it’s exciting.

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