For this particular piece I feel as though I should change the name of the column to “For the Love of Negan” because, well, today I want to talk about how much I LOVE Negan’s character in The Walking Dead.
Spoilers: Some spoilers for the comic continuity lay ahead so if you’re not caught up stop and come back later. Also, I am NOT talking about the show here. I don’t watch the show and feel fairly certain – perhaps unjustly but oh well – that the neutered portrayal on AMC’s show is only going to frustrate me (as a rule I have avoided watching the show since its third season but my girlfriend is a huge a fan and I will most likely see some of the episodes this season. Wonderful what we sacrifice for love, eh?).
So as of TWD #158 I realized that Negan is now just as important a character to me as Rick and Carl are. And with Rick, well, I’ve kinda been waiting for the jaw-dropping end of our 10+ year protagonist. I felt for certain he was a goner a couple years ago, not because of any particular threat. That’s not how Mr. Kirkman does things. It’s going to come out of nowhere and it’s going to be nasty. For several years TWD has felt as though it will one day become Carl’s story. And you know, no one is safe and there’s never any chance we know where this crazy ass book is going to go, even after what? Thirteen plus years?
But I digress. Let us turn to the wonders of Negan.
If you haven’t read it, Image began putting out a magazine called Image Plus a few months ago. Serialized in the back of it is Negan’s origin or sorts, a glimpse into his life before the zombie apocalypse began. Not only is it awesome (done by the regular creative team to boot – no farming out here) but it really gives you a window into the hows and whys of this unbelievably complex character.
From the frame above we can see that much of Negan’s character was firmly in place before the zombie apocalypse turned his life upside down (the same serial also shows us why his beloved weapon of choice is named Lucille). Negan’s an average guy who has his own problems and plenty of mistakes. But that’s it – he’s average. He’s normal. Aside from his genius-level talent at wielding expletives Negan is not some sick murderous bastard. In fact, after events in a recent issue of TWD (156) we see that Negan is actually harboring a moral compass not so far off from Rick’s. Not so far from our own. Since he was released from his prison I’ve come to realize that there’s no turning back for me – if Negan leaves the book it is going to suffer a massive loss in my eyes. Of course I’ll still read it, because in my opinion it’s in the top two comics I’ve ever read. But it would really take something out of TWD for me at this point. Which leads me to wonder, is it possible, as Kirkman shows us the man behind the madness, that Negan could eventually replace Rick Grimes as the main character of the book? I mean, TWD is, to some degree, a book that doesn’t need to rely on a main character. But as an anchor, Negan is so well-rounded, so three and four dimensional, that he just might make an insanely interesting moral focus for the continuation of the narrative.
Not that I want Rick gone or replaced, but, you know, Kirkman said it, “No one is safe.”
As the new season of the show looms closer and I prepare to complain I will always be able to seek solace in the pages of Robert Kirkman’s masterpiece, and the fact that Negan has just come out of nowhere to become my favorite character is as startling to me as it is profound.
Not let’s get to some f$&king ass-kicking, eh?
Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.