Negan has long been one of my favorite comic book villains perhaps ever. He has charisma in spades, is always dropping classic one-liners, and has the right blend of diplomatic brutality….If that makes sense. He made his startling debut in issue #100 of The Walking Dead, smashing Glenn Rhee’s skull in with his trademark barbed wire baseball bat, Lucille. He’s often portrayed as a ruthless dictator, who at times displays a hint of morality, but doesn’t stray too far from his hardened personality. One of the biggest mysteries about him was that of his origin. Up until a few months ago, no one really knew much about Negan and his past life. Well thanks to Skybound and Robert Kirkman, we’re being treated to a glimpse inside Negan’s life before the zombie apocalypse. In ‘The Walking Dead: Here’s Negan’ we finally get to see how the most villainous character in The Walking Dead came into such immense power.
Right from the start, we get to see traces of future Negan as he hurls profanities at his opponents in an intense game of ping-pong. The Pages shift to show Negan facing a teenage kid, who’s nervous around his superior. It’s here that we learn before the outbreak, Negan lived a relatively modest life as a gym teacher. He’s married, and we meet his wife about 3 pages in, as she openly chastises him about the way he talks to and behaves around his students. Midway through the conversation, his wife faints, cracking her head on the concrete during the fall. The next panel showcases the first traces of the nefarious side of Negan, one we would soon become all too familiar with.
Outside of his marriage, Negan also has a mistress, and the two are seen copulating. Negan appears distracted during the act, and when his lover tries to get his attention, he breaks down and tells her his wife has cancer. The woman, almost as cold-hearted at Negan appears completely unfazed by the news. She verbally tears into Negan and kicks him out, effectively ending their relationship. Negan however, spins the news to his wife as him being the one to have ended the relationship. His wife appears confused, curious why Negan would choose “the sick one.” He appears to offer a genuine answer, telling her he didn’t NEED that relationship, and that he only wanted his wife, and he wanted them to be together.
The pacing of this part of Negan’s backstory gives us an interesting look at several pieces of his personality. We get to see the bully in him as he taunts and degrades his students. We also get to see the nurturing side of him as he cares for his wife as she falls ill, but we’re immediately reminded that he’s a conflicted man as well when we learn of his mistress. All of these traits are pieces of Negan that we continue to see unfold across the pages of The Walking Dead comic, and are integral to what makes him such an interesting character.
Next, Negan is shown continuously caring for his wife, joking with her and trying to keep her happy, although as readers we can see her health is steadily declining. This is where we learn just how important Negan’s wife is to him. During several panels of dialogue, we see that she’s just as sassy as him, but also tender enough to keep him grounded. Their conversation is immediately interrupted by a man rushing into the room, trying to get Negan to leave his wife behind so they can evacuate the building. He opts to stay behind and care for his ailing wife, unaware that the zombie apocalypse was unfolding at that very moment. Still optimistic, Negan whispers to his wife that there was some commotion going on, but it should be over by the time she wakes up. Unfortunately, that moment would never come.
There’s a loud explosion right outside of their hospital room, and Negan goes to check on it. He get’s his first actual glimpse of the sheer scale of the chaos and confusion happening all around him, and he decides to use a dresser to barricade the door. His wife has now passed away, but he’s completely oblivious to it because of the mayhem that has engulfed his surroundings. He’d soon find out how things work in the new world, and we’d soon find out just how big a role his wife will play in the future for him as well.
Negan manages to escape the death trap that he’d inadvertently set for himself, and runs into a teenage boy. He saves him, but after killing a few zombies himself, he has the teen go in and dispose of his wife, unable to do so himself. From here we’re treated to a montage of Negan meeting survivors, only to have them end up meeting their deise a short time later. Himself being the sole survivor each and every time. One group in particular happens to be a group of guys, and one of them is brandishing a baseball bat. The same bat that would become his most important identifier.
Negan makes his way through the new world using his new-found survival skills and charisma to earn his way into a new group led by a crossbow wielding ally, named Dwight. Dwight and his wife Sherry are part of a larger group that Negan finds himself the leader of after killing the original leader when he finds out he rapes the women in the group. This is where we see the two biggest clashes within Negan’s personality: His propensity towards violence and his knack for showcasing tiny bits of humanity and morality. He dispatches of the leader with what would soon become his trademark. Bashing his head in with his baseball bat.
After this, Negan finds a fence wrapped in barbed wire that he goes over to, snips a bit off, and wraps it around his bat. To end the book, Negan goes on an epic monologue in which he tells a story about his wife, Lucille. He tells the group that he lost her when the apocalypse first started, and that after losing her, and so many people afterwards he became numb to the idea of death. He said after a while, he realized what it was that helped him to become that way. It had been his wife, Lucille. She protected him, put him in a bubble where nothing had gotten to him, and in the process it made him stronger. He then informs the group that his bat will now be named Lucille, and it will be their protector going forward. He promised that if the group stood with him, they forever be taken care of, and anyone who got in the way would end up like their recently dispatched leader. He then anoints his new group, “The Saviors” and proclaims himself the supreme leader.
Overall, this book is an absolutely fantastic read for fans of the comic, and especially fans of the character Negan. It gives him an awesome back story and answers a ton of questions about essentially every aspect of his personality. It’s a fitting origin story for a man who has not only played a vital role in the comics, but is also dominating a vast majority of the narrative on the television show as well. I’d highly recommend checking this out.