It’s funny if you think about it: we’re at part five of the Whisperer War, yet by issue’s end, the war seems all but over…for at least one community.
The bulk of this issue dealt with the battle between the Whisperer and their roamer herd versus the Hilltop community, and damn it was an amazing sight to read.
This issue showcased just how much of a fight the Hilltop can put up when they band together, helped cement why Maggie is the true leader of this group, and left the community in a precarious position by issue’s end.
Speaking of cementing, this issue set in stone that Lydia has rejected the Whisperers for good. She’s switched sides and now sees herself as one of the survivors that we’ve followed. I mean, she blew one of the Whisperers straight to hell at the end of issue #160, so there’s no question about her allegiance, but it’s so satisfying that she’s ended up here, given what she’s endured.
We know that Alpha let random Whisperers rape Lydia, in addition to any other sort of trauma or abuse she endured while a Whisperer, and that alone was an incentive to get out. If I had to guess, I think that there could be potential friction from neighboring communities if they learn that Lydia has chosen to stay with the Hilltop folks.
Hell, part of the reason Rick and Andrea had Lydia leave Alexandria was for her own safety, so hopefully feelings have cooled and people outside of the Hilltop are more receptive to Lydia.
Something else I liked about the Hilltop attack was Carl, against Maggie’s wishes, going to alert other residents during the fire instead of escaping while Maggie, as leader, informed the others. Carl tells Maggie not to argue with him and that she’s more important. Even though Carl is still a kid and can be pretty ruthless at times, when the time calls for it, he’ll rise to the occasion and help during a crisis.
And this shows just how much he respects not merely as a friend, but as a leader. And he’s right, in this moment, Maggie is more important. What good is saving everyone else and protecting the Hilltop if the leader ends up dying in the process when they could have avoided that fate? It’d be like if Rick died during “All Out War” for some careless error.
But here, Carl acknowledges that getting Maggie outside and to safety is the priority. Even though she’s more than capable of saving the residents, she needs to be outside and on the front lines in battle. But Carl has also endured his fair share of trials during this and past conflicts, so he’s more than willing to risk his life as well if it means saving or informing other Hilltop residents.
For a second there, I thought Carl was going to…maybe not die, but come close to it. That fire got pretty damn close to him and were it not for Aaron also putting himself at risk to save Carl, things might have gone down different for him.
Outside of that, this was a damn impressive battle with some great artwork from Charlie Adlard that shows the scope of this clash and felt very similar to “No Way Out.” Here, have a look.
And this. This, just wow. Now this is a badass moment not just for Maggie, but for any character period. It’s the kind of image that feels good enough to be blown up as a poster. Just the visual of this worn out, exhausted Maggie standing triumphant, Hershel at her side, the Hilltop residents standing tired, but triumphant, while their home burns in the background is a strong image.
They’re victorious, but they’ve now lost their home. And not only are there still both roamers and Whisperers still out there roaming, as seen when Beta indicates that this is far from over, but they have to find a new location. Given how many people are at the Hilltop, coupled with long-distance travel, moving from the Hilltop to a new residency will be challenging, more so if the group travels at night.
But then, what choice do they have right now? They can’t just stay at the Hilltop not just because it’s burned, but they would leave themselves open to another assault if the remaining Whisperers try to launch another attack. Either way, it’s great to see the Hilltop residents band together and force the Whisperers into retreat. Their home is now lost as a result, but this is still a major win for the survivors. For now.
Moving along to the other survivors, it looks like Connie was bitten off-panel. Sucks, but hopefully Magna was able to sever the hand in time. Like the Hilltop, it’s another case of a group having what looks like a success against the Whisperers, but not without a loss.
You’ve also got Dwight chastising Negan for losing Lucille, but can you really blame Negan for mourning his loss? We’re talking about a fucking baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire, but she has a special place in all of our hearts and some of our skulls. It was a bit meta, I think, for Negan to tell Dwight that he didn’t understand how he felt, but us readers do, given the ongoing “Here’s Negan” backstory we’ve been getting.
We’ve got Eugene making his way in the middle of the night with his ammunition, saying that this is the good he can do. It’s an interesting contrast to where Eugene is in the television series right now, where you’ve got Rosita saying that he’s a coward. Here, he’s willingly putting himself in harm’s way by traveling at night instead of waiting until day because these bullets are what he contributes to the battle.
So here’s hoping Eugene doesn’t run into any trouble on the road. I mean, if that happens, he does have a bunch of bullets he could use, but given how much can go wrong when traveling at night, he better watch his ass.
Same with Rick and Andrea, who are all but ready for some normalcy in their lives. I hope that Kirkman isn’t setting one of them up to be axed off because their conversations have been very warm, and there’s always the calm before the storm when it comes to Kirkman. We’ve had a fair share of big deaths and I hope that these two make it through, so maybe I’m just looking too deep into this.
But at least they’re alert of the looming situation because we’re seeing that the war is not only far from over as far as the Whisperers are concerned, but Sherry is plotting a comeback for the Saviors. Rick and company are fighting for their lives against the Whisperers. Their resources are divided in several places and the Hilltop is now lost.
Soon, as Sherry points out, battling the Whisperers will leave the other communities tired and exhausted. Never mind that there may be other Whisperers out there, but the Saviors would be in a prime position to attack once the Whisperers have drained the survivors of their fight. Not that they’d be unable to fight against another attack, but they wouldn’t be at full strength.
And that’s the advantage in Sherry’s plan: why attack Rick now when his people are ready for anything? Even though they already know about the Saviors’ plans, their priority is dealing with the Whisperers. Sherry knows that Rick will triumph in the end. Hell, that’s what she wants. But if she’s leading the Saviors to a resurrection or to pick up where Negan left off, she’s in a prime position to do so.
And so that is the fifth part of the Whisperer War. The Hilltop has won the battle, but not the war as their community is now in flames, so now they must seek new shelter. Meanwhile, the Kingdom is set to enter the battle, so keep an eye on them as well. Hell, maybe they can provide support for the Hilltop folks now that they’re without a home.
The Whisperers have faced a setback, but with Beta still lurking and the Saviors planning a comeback, this battle is far from over.