Got to say The Walking Dead issue 173 wraps up the Whisperer War arc nicely, while ushering in the next arc of the comic. After failing to defeat the Alexandria Safezone Beta has retreated in order to plan his next strike. This strike, even though it failed, was to kill Jesus and Aaron who in return kill Beta and several Whisperers. As this is occurring Michonne’s group arrives at the designated meeting spot in Ohio to be met by a group that is extremely hostile. This begins to usher in the new arc of The Walking Dead: A New World Order.
It has been a long time since we have seen Jesus and Aaron in action and they have not missed a beat. After declining Rick’s offer to lead a group to Ohio Jesus has decided that he wants to return to the Hilltop to live with Aaron. On the way back they decided to camp outside where Jesus is attacked by Beta and the undead. As the fight is occurring Jesus and Aaron successfully kill Beta and the herd. Thus, showing that despite not wanting to fight they are more than willing to do so in order to survive. Once they have killed Beta they decide to see who he is, which is a famous basketball player who had a nice house, many cars, and a luxurious life. This captures what the apocalypse has done to people as the most successful people can be reduced down to becoming monsters in order to survive. With this information Jesus and Aaron decide they must track down the rest of Beta’s group as they pose a threat to the four communities. Once the group is found both men eliminate the rest of the Whisperers and save two people. In doing this, Kirkman establishes a difference between the members of the four communities and the Whisperers in their methods of survival and humanity. As this is occurring the comic begins to set up for the next arc as Michonne’s group has made it to the meet up destination. Rather than being greeted in a friendly matter, as it was arranged to be, they are ordered to put down their weapons and have their hands up. By introducing this new group, The Commonwealth, it sets the tone for who they are and what they have experienced in order for them to have adopted these practices.
The comic has several weak points the first being that Beta’s death is anti-climactic considering that he is one of the only characters to have done damage to the Alexandria Safezone. By killing him off in the way the comic does it cheapens what he has accomplished directly and indirectly in his short run in The Walking Dead. Furthermore, the comic inappropriately interjects Carl and Dwight balancing their relationships with women. While this is a sign that the 4 communities are returning to normal it is missed timed and is glossed over as one major event is wrapped up, while another one is about to begin that will change The Walking Dead once again.
Clearly issue 173 of The Walking Dead ends one story arc and begins a new one. The story arc that this issue finishes is The Whisperer War as Beta is killed along with any potential leader that could replace him, thus group does not pose a threat to the four communities. The new story arc introduced is Michonne’s group being exposed to a new set of communities/ colonies known as The Commonwealth and how they function. As The Walking Dead moves forward in this direction we are going to experience a more worldly view within the comic as there are more than four communities in play now.