Saturday, 16 May 2015

The Walking Dead, Volume 23: Whispers Into Screams Review (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard)


Writing “spoilers” for a review of the 23RD VOLUME in a series seems a bit pointless, doesn’t it? I mean, if you’re considering reading this and have read the past 22 volumes, why are you reading a review BEFORE reading the book itself? You’re gonna read it whether or not it’s good. You’ve read 22 volumes, you’re in this ‘til the bitter end like me, which means you’ve read the book and know what happened. Other people reading this review, they don’t care about spoilers, they’re probably just killing time at work. 

After a surprisingly decent 22nd volume, The Walking Dead, now set several years after the war against Negan, has settled back into its mediocre ways. The focus is (hopefully temporarily) gone from Rick Grimes and his son Karl is now the star of the show. Yes, the kid with a hole in his head, the one who should’ve died but didn’t for no good reason. You know the world’s in rough shape when a kid like this is getting the googly eyes from not one but two cute girls (though to be fair one of them is semi-crazy). 

A new group of insaniacs calling themselves the Whisperers - who wear zombie skin over their own to blend into the zombie herds - attack Jesus and some of his disciples. Jesus captures one of the nutters, a 16 year old girl called Lydia, taking her back to Hilltop for some answers while Karl protects himself and Sophia from a pair of dickhead kids who attack them. 

Dickhead kids have dickhead parents who say dickhead things like “Dude, my kid’s totally allowed to hit yours in the back of the head with a brick - but him fighting back and hitting mine with a shovel is totally out of line!” and dickhead Gregory (the former leader of Hilltop before non-dickhead Maggie) decides to be a dickhead and try to assassinate Maggie. Still awake? Karl gets some. Aww, yeah dawg! 

I didn’t hate this volume but it does drag in places especially as the, uh, story, I guess, is a bit thin. There’s way too much time devoted to Maggie dealing with the dickhead kids’ dickhead parents, especially as the plot really doesn’t go anywhere. You think it does but apparently Maggie, like Karl, is unkillable, also for no reason. I guess their buddy Jesus didn’t get his nickname for nothing, eh? 

The Whisperers stuff is ok and I’m glad an adversary has been introduced to fill the Governor/Negan gaps because this series gets good once the action starts a-flowing. But their former member Lydia, Karl’s new love interest replacing Sophia, is a bit of a downer - I shouldn’t be surprised though, this is The Walking Dead. 

I saw Beetlejuice too but not every emo-chick interested in death needs to be called Lydia, Robert Kirkman. And, really, did you need to mention that she was raped repeatedly? She’s 16 and she mentions to Karl that when she was with the Whisperers that it’s been going on for a while. My god, can we make this series just a little bit less bleak? Was child rape the missing ingredient in this misery stew? Jeesh. 

Maggie and Jesus are decent characters but Gregory’s a joke, and Karl has his moments, though I kept hoping we were going to see what Rick was up to. And, given that last page, I’m not sure it’s a good idea to rest the direction of the series on Karl’s invincible shoulders - or maybe that’s just a tease and we’ll be back with Rick and co. in the next book? We’ll see. 

Despite Whispers Into Screams being an average addition to the series overall - it felt too unsubstantial - 23 volumes in, I’m not about to give up now. That’s probably the most depressing thing about the series actually, more so than the child rape and such: regardless of quality, onwards I trudge! The world's best-selling comic, everybody! 

The Walking Dead, Volume 23: Whispers Into Screams

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