“Did you fucks think I wouldn’t come back?”
The world is upside down at the moment, and it looks like things are going to stay messed up for the foreseeable future. One of the many, many, casualties of 2020 has been traditional comicbook retailers. With the pandemic putting an end to stores across the world and complicating production, a lot of artists and writers and general comicbook talent have been struggling. Now, with stores re-opening, some creators are looking at ways of getting people back in, purchasing comics in their droves (at a safe distance, of course). For Robert Kirkman, it was obvious how he could hook fans of recently finished The Walking Dead; a one-shot about everyone’s favourite villain.
We haven’t seen Negan since issue #174 (aside from a very brief appearance in the final issue) after Maggie left him alone, surprisingly sparing his life. Negan Lives! takes place somewhere in that 25-year timeskip, in the giant grey area between the penultimate issue and the final one. He’s older, but not quite an old man. He’s losing it, but he’s not crazy. He’s tired of living his solitary life, but he’s not going to kill himself. Things come to a head with the appearance of a lone survivor, named Lucy, who is far too nice. It’s clear to Negan that she’s not alone, and it’s not long before he’s killing and swearing in that special way only he can. If you’re a fan of Negan’s colourful use of the f-word, you will not be disappointed here.
Overall, it’s a simple one-shot. But it fills in a lot of the gaps around the character. We find out what he’s been doing since we last saw him, and why that gravestone in issue 193 had been upgraded from a crappy wooden cross. Like the previous Negan standalone story, Here’s Negan!, this issue deals with his wife and his grief for her. Burying the baseball bat helped a little, but it becomes clear by the end of the issue that Negan has whole other adventure lined up ahead of him if he wants closure. Whether Kirkman and Adlard will revisit Negan and tell this story remains to be seen. But it’d be crazy not to. A road-trip across post-apocalyptic America with Negan presents so many awesome opportunities. I’d jump at the chance to read that miniseries (or see a JDM-focused episode of the show around it).
As a huge fan of this series, a series that’s been a part of my life for a while now, it’s just awesome to see this character again. After the final issue, it did feel like Negan deserved a bit more closure. He might not get it all here, but it fills in enough gaps to keep me satisfied for now. It’s a world I enjoy revisiting, thanks to Kirkman’s writing and Adlard’s art. And its intentions are good. If Negan can do something great in the world right now, and help those struggling creators and businesses, then I’m all for it.