Fans of The Walking Dead had been put on notice for weeks now, with the message being: Negan is coming. Negan is hands down the biggest bad in The Walking Dead, and soon, he’ll be the biggest bad ever. There is no over exaggeration with Negan. Everything that you hear about him is both legit and earnest; He is genuinely evil, and strikingly charming. There are times within the TV show (as in the comics), that Negan will be dead serious, but he’ll say something to make you crack a smile. That’s the beauty and irony of his character. But where did Negan come from? What’s his goal? Are Rick and the Alexandrians in over their head in this conflict? Let’s explore the character of Negan, as told through the lens of his comic book persona.
**Warning:The Walking Dead Comic And TV Spoilers Below. Don’t read if you don’t want to see them**
In Negan’s world, he’s not the bad guy. He doesn’t see himself so much of the villain, as he does someone who is genuinely trying to restore some sort of civility in the world. In reality, he is the absolute worst. His followers are generally those who wouldn’t last a day on their own, and follow him aimlessly, clinging to his every word without question. So far, the only thing we know about Negan is that he used to be a used car salesman, which most certainly explains his knack for being able to persuade people into doing things they wouldn’t normally do. This also explains his unbelievable amount of charisma and charm. There’s a certain sleaze factor within Negan, but you can’t help but be drawn into it.
While there is no origin story on Negan just yet, we do know that he came into an insane amount of power in a very short time. He’s the leader of The Saviors, a cult-like group that hangs on to every word he says, often offering their lives to protect him, and his compound. The Saviors have made Negan a very powerful man, as they have essentially been poaching supplies from other communities, all under Negan’s promise of “protection.” So how does one person seem to get large communities to bend to his will with relative ease? We’ve yet to truly discover Negan’s brutality on the TV show, but readers of the comics are all too familiar.
In the comic books, Negan doesn’t show up until issue 100, but when he does, he gets one hell of an introduction. After a trip to the Hilltop community goes wrong for Rick and the gang, Negan and fifty Saviors line up Rick, Carl, Glenn, Maggie, Michonne, Sophia (still alive in the comics) and Heath and promises to teach Rick a lesson by bashing their skulls in with his barbed-wire wrapped bat he’s named Lucille. He goes on a long monologue about not wanting to be a racist, and not wanting to kill a woman, but in the end he picks his victim by a sadistic round of eeny meeny miny moe. Unfortunately Glenn eats the bat, then he leaves Rick and crew to clean up the mess, promising to return the next day. This was a brute force show of power, and while I hate that it happened to one of my favorite characters in the comics, it was executed to perfection. It perfectly demonstrates why Negan is so dangerous, and why he’s such a threat in this world. Rick and his crew have faced pretty big challenges before, and yes, they’ve had casualties along the way. Negan is much more different in the sense that not only did he kill one of Rick’s own, but he made him watch. Then in the aftermath of that, he offers Rick the same deal he’s given Hilltop and other communities, and Rick is forced to accept.
Negan is a very imposing character, and his arrival (FINALLY!) on the Walking Dead TV series signals a major shift in power from Rick and crew. For the last five seasons, we’ve seen them overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, and they’ve gained a certain swagger in the process. Rick seems to be overly confident in having Maggie make the deal to agree to kill Negan and the Saviors in exchange for access to the Hilltops food and supplies. I understand it from Rick’s angle, seeing as how he’s just defeated The Governor and the Terminus gang, but this time feels different. It lends a certain degree of arrogance almost, for Rick to come in and assume that a man who has controlled an entire community for this long would be an easy undertaking. After all, Daryl has encountered TWO separate sets of Saviors, Maggie And Carol took out a bunch by themselves, and Rick himself swept an entire compound full of Saviors, but they still keep coming back.
THIS is why Negan poses such a threat to the survivors. After taking out scores of Negan’s men, one has to imagine that revenge will come looking for Rick and crew sooner than later. The unfortunate part of this whole scenario, is that (at least in the TV series) Rick doesn’t know that he hasn’t even put a dent in Negan’s forces. In the last episode of the TV series, titled “East” we see Rick’s group splinter off into several small groups, weakening the defenses back at Alexandria. Most of them wind up getting captured by Dwight and more Saviors, which means there’s only one thing left to happen….
There’s only one more episode of The Walking Dead left before we get a formal introduction to Negan. Actors on the show have gone on record to call this Sunday’s Finale episode the biggest in the series history so far. If Robert Kirkman’s excitement is any indicator of how well Jeffrey Dean Morgan will be in that role, we’re in for one hell of a ride. During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kirkman had this to say:
I’ve seen moments from the comic come to life before my eyes, and it’s all very touching. But seeing Jeffrey Dean Morgan in costume, holding Lucille, saying lines — yeah, I don’t get goosebumps a lot, but that definitely happened. And seeing the joy and the elation that I had from seeing that character existing in a real space, coming to life as they say, I know that the fans are going to feel the same way.
Negan is coming, and with him comes an imminent new threat to Rick and Alexandria. Negan and The Saviors are truly something to fear.