The Walking Dead comic returns. Sort of.
When Robert Kirkman abruptly ended The Walking Dead comic in the summer of 2019, it was surprising. Not so much that he chose to end it, but the way in which it ended. Just one issue after the death of Rick Grimes, readers found out that the next issue would be, in fact, the final. Not a ton of notice, especially given how much story there was still to tell with other characters.
Still, many, but not all, loose ends were tied up in the final issue during the time skip. However, one of the characters we barely saw any of was Negan. Sure, we saw him in the final montage of characters, but he didn’t speak. Carl paid a visit to his home, but either he kept quiet or wasn’t there. Not that the crux of the final issue would revolve around Negan.
Enter “Negan Lives,” as Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and everyone involved with the comic return to bring us back. So let’s return to the roamer world and can catch up with everyone’s favorite former Savior leader.
Right off the bat, I think it’s a good idea to have a storyline focused exclusively on Negan, at least as far as recognizable characters. We’ve seen how this worked with the “Here’s Negan” storyline, and given Negan was barely featured in the final issue, it makes sense that Kirkman would let readers see what he was up to in this new world.
Hell, Negan even gets a little meta right off the bat when, at first, it looks like he’s talking to us. He points out how we thought he wouldn’t be back, but nope. He’s just talking to the flowers. It’s pretty telegraphed and you know that Negan’s not talking to us, but given how much Negan talked to a bat, I can see him drumming up conversations with the flowers.
Charlie Adlard is great here with his always stellar artwork. He takes us through Negan’s range of emotions, but what the man is really feeling is loneliness. Absolute solitude takes its toll. True, Negan isn’t technically without allies. The other communities didn’t exactly go away, but I imagine that after Negan’s last confrontation with Maggie and Dante, he hasn’t had much contact with the others.
So what’s a guy to do with all that time? As we’ve seen, Negan has been just praying for someone to do him in. Better to die than live a life of solitude with next to no communication or human interaction. But at this point, Negan would kill just to hear another voice. After being surrounded by followers for so long, Negan has the peace and quiet that many would crave for.
However, Negan hates being alone. Who wouldn’t? It’s understandable that after being alone for so long, he’d want some interaction again. He hates being alone but, as he says at Lucille’s grave, he’s also afraid of dying. I still think he’d welcome it because it would put him out of his misery, but like someone who wants to try and take their own life, you’d have to drum up a lot of courage to actually bite the bullet.
We also learn about Negan’s faith, or lack thereof, when he admits that he’s an atheist. Hadn’t really thought much about what Negan believes in, but he doesn’t dwell on it, which is nice. The point of him saying this is because he knows that his wife isn’t in heaven since it doesn’t exist.
Huh. Comic Negan and TV Carl would get along pretty well.
Things take a surprising turn for the better- perhaps- when a well-dressed woman named Lucy shows up. That’s Lucy, not Lucille, but it’d be an easy mistake for Negan to make. Upon first meeting Lucy, I wondered if she was real. Kind of like when Rick spoke with Lori over the phone after she died, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Lucy turned out to be some kind of hallucination.
It doesn’t help that, unlike Negan or anyone else right now, Lucy looks like she put on her Sunday best. Hair is in place and not a speck of dust on her. Seems too good to be true? Well, let’s keep going.
Negan and Lucy have a nice conversation about living in the “new normal.” With the dead so rampant, as Negan knows, it’s easy to get used to the fact that people you love can be gone in an instant. You adjust to the new world and try new things, but get used to the horrors around you. Hell, even the new world in the time skip after All Out War felt like a far cry from what came before.
This encounter plays out similar to when Rick and Daryl encountered Jesus on the Season 6 episode “The Next World.” Beyond this new character looking clean and well-dressed, Lucy then asks Negan if he knows about any settlements. The difference here being that, of course, Negan does know, but he knows that he’s not on good terms with them.
So this Lucy lady seems like a nice gal. She’s kind, cordial, and has no problem eating what’s in front of her, even if it is rabbit.
Yes, this is all too good to be true. You knew it, I knew it, and Negan knew it, too. Perhaps he thought Lucy would come clean, but Negan demands that Lucy come clean. She’s too neat to have just been on her own all this time. Not a hair out of place and no scratches. As you’d expect, Negan figures that this is a trap.
Lucy’s got a few friends: Barry and Derick, the latter of whom, on the above photo, is speaking to Lucy. Can we pause for a minute and point out just how damn similar Derick looks to Rick? I mean, it’s almost too perfect of a match for Mr. Rick Grimes. That had to be intentional on Robert Kirkman’s part.
Either way, Negan is no pushover. He manages to overtake Barry, but he is still outnumbered in the end. Derick forces Negan to start digging his own grave, but again, he’s been ready all this time to die, so perhaps he’d welcome death. Still, none of them want to attract the attention of roamers, so Negan keeps it quiet when Derick threatens to kill Lucy.
From here, Negan tells the three the familiar tale of Lucille that we already know. So really, we don’t learn anything about Lucille that we didn’t know before.
It helps inform Derick, Barry, and Lucy, but from the perspective of the reader, this isn’t new information. If anything, I had hoped that maybe Negan was just biding his time and perhaps he’d pull Lucille out of the ground in order to help him out of this jam. That or provide some new insight into Negan’s relationship with Lucille. Well, at the very least, Derick is entertained by the story.
So I suppose this conversation is what brings in some roamers. Again with the stealth roamers just popping out of nowhere. They didn’t make a single noise whatsoever that wasn’t louder than a shovel going into the ground?
Whatever. We’ve been down this road before. The roamers make quick work of Barry, but Negan wants Derick all to himself.
Quite literally, in fact. This moment, with Negan attempting to shove the shovel through Derick to cut him in half, is pure Negan. Not just with the string of F-bombs, but it’s the level of brutality that Negan has been known for since his introduction. Hell, this might be the most alive that Negan has felt in a long time. Even though he’s unable to actually cut Derick in half, he still gave a great effort.
But this has given Negan a sort of purpose. When he’s done with Derick, he tells Lucy to get out of the grave. His focus is now on Lucille- his wife, not the bat. You’ll recall that, in “Here’s Negan,” Negan left Lucille in her hospital bed. Much like Shane did with Rick, he probably didn’t expect anything bad to happen. But unlike Rick, we don’t know whether Lucille made it out of the hospital.
Not like she had anywhere to go, given her worsening condition, but still, she’s probably out there somewhere. Whether she’s just a dried up corpse or reanimated roamer, Negan is now making it his mission to return to the hospital to find out. Even if it’s the worst scenario, he’d at least like to put Lucille’s body to rest.
At the very least, he has something more to live for. He even invites Lucy to join him, asking her- and us in the process- if she wants to know what happens next.
That’s where we end things. Based on the Letter Hacks, Kirkman had intended to kill off Negan, but Charlie Adlard. Thank goodness for that.
This does feel like a setup for an ongoing series following Negan and Lucy. Would be an interesting way to continue telling the story of The Walking Dead without focusing on the main characters. But as Kirkman indicated during San Diego Comic-Con at Home, it doesn’t seem like he has any intention of continuing from here. So it’s more of a tease than anything else.
That said, I enjoyed the read and return to this world after the abrupt ending of issue #193. It was good to spend some time with Negan and learn how life has treated him since his encounter with Maggie and Dante. While some of it was retreaded territory, it was a fun read with some impressive artwork from Charlie Adlard.
Whether we ever return to this world or if this is again the end, I’m not sure, but it was great to spend one more time in the world of The Walking Dead. Will we see more? Who knows? But one can hope. Until then, see you all later and thanks for reading.