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While AMC's The Walking Dead is showing no signs of slowing down – at least beyond its currently delayed Season 10 finale – the comic book series was shockingly brought to a sudden end in 2019 when creator Robert Kirkman announced the Grimes family was hanging up its cowboy hats for good with issue #193. Now, Skybound has temporarily reversed that decision in order to deliver a final Walking Dead special issue that should clear up a huge question that the main story didn't clear up: what happened to Negan?
As readers of the comic book know, Negan basically dropped out of the main storyline in #174 (the issue before the "New World Order" arc introduced the Commonwealth community). Maggie had tracked Negan down, bent on killing him to avenge Glenn's murder, but changed her mind after seeing how willing Negan was to die. While some fans suspected he'd committed suicide after destroying Lucille #2, the then-final issue revealed that Negan was still alive in a mostly empty town following the time-jump, and that Carl regularly brought him supplies, though without any communication. The former villain made the briefest appearance in #193, as he was shown bringing flowers to his wife Lucille's grave.
Now, fans will get a chance to learn what Negan's life was like during that time jump, with Skybound Entertainment's upcoming released Negan Lives!, a one-off special issue that will likely serve as the last-of-the-last swan songs for the comic book side of the Walking Dead franchise. Here's the logline from the project's press release, which understandably doesn't give away very much.
Spurned by a slowly rebuilding society, Negan lives a life of desperate isolation… or does he? In the tradition of Here’s Negan, this all-new story in Negan Lives #1 gives readers a glimpse into what has happened to one The Walking Dead‘s most popular characters in the time since his last appearance in The Walking Dead #174.
The existence of this issue is quite interesting when it comes to the TV series, which will soon catch up with the point in the comics when Negan stopped showing up. Granted, Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan has taken some different narrative paths than his two-dimensional counterpart, and Morgan's popularity within the fanbase makes it seem unlikely that he'll be going away soon into Season 11. That said, Lauren Cohan's Maggie will make her long-awaited return in the delayed Season 10 finale, and she is NOT going to be happy to see Negan walking free as the "savior" who killed Alpha. She might very well kill him in cold blood, precisely as a way to flip the script on readers.
Check out the artwork for the Negan Lives! cover below.
Nothing says Negan like smirking through a face full of blood spatter. Thankfully, fans won't have to get splashed with anything in order to get a copy of Negan Lives! However, everyone WILL need to go to a comic book shop (on July 1) in order to purchase it – or have it delivered, of course – because Skybound will not be releasing the issue in digital form at all, only as a physical comic book.
There's even a somewhat charitable aspect here, just in case anyone thinks that Robert Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard are just doing this for the money. As inspired by DC Comics execs' recent decision to cut ties with Diamond Distribution, in order to bring back the publisher-to-fans direct market, Kirkman and Adlard are granting comic shops 100% of the Negan Lives! proceeds. Here's how Kirkman explained it:
While Charlie Adlard and I had laid the series to rest, this felt like something special we could do for the store owners who made our series a success to begin with. To that end, I’m happy to report that 100% of the revenue generated from this book will go to the stores selling it. The retailer community does backbreaking work to get comics into the hands of our loving fans, we should all be doing more in these trying times to show them how appreciated they are.
I don't know about you guys, but I had a blast with Here's Negan, even if the bouncing storyline wasn't the easiest format to get into. One can only assume that Kirkman will find at least one new sympathetic layer to add to the character, possibly while also giving him a new relationship of some kind. I'm hoping that Negan Lives! goes even deeper into the future than #193 did, so that we can realize that much more of this post-apocalyptic landscape.
Negan Lives! will hit comic book shelves on Wednesday, July 1, which isn't far away at all. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for news on when The Walking Dead will return with Season 10's Princess-filled finale, as well as what the filming schedule might look like for Season 11. In the meantime, our Summer 2020 TV Premiere schedule will clue you in on everything heading to the small screen very soon.