Sunday's Service episode of The Walking Dead (Season 7 Episode 4) was one of the most comic book accurate episodes of the entire series. It proved that the AMC series is at its best when it follows the work of Robert Kirkman laid out on the pages of Skybound/Image comic books.
Not only was Negan's dialogue at times word for word ripped from the pages of the graphic novels, but the events of the episode and - more importantly - the events they are setting up are almost completely on par. It looks like some iconic deaths, intense moments, and scary decisions experienced by comic book readers when the Negan story published in 2012 will soon be realized on television.
Over the next few slides, we are going to run through some of the iconic comic book story lines which were set up in Negan's arrival at Alexandria.
"There are some great moments from the comic books that we're going to get a chance to experience," executive producer Greg Nicotero told ComicBook.com. "To me it feels like we may be a little closer in nature to certain beats in the graphic novel than we have in the past, but that could just be my interpretation of it."
Of course, that does mean all comic book spoilers are fair game which likely lays out spoilers for the TV series. You've been warned.
Carl and Negan
When the truck full of guns and mattresses pulled off, no comic book fan could help but think that Carl was hidden in the back of it.
In the comics, Carl hitches a ride to Negan's Sanctuary by hiding in the back of one of his trucks. When they arrive, Carl uses a machine gun to open fire on the Saviors and manages to take out a few of them. He eventually runs out of ammo and is taken hostage by Negan.
Hostage is a loose term, however. Negan has a twisted for of respect for the one-eyed bandit. He does do his duties in manipulating Carl and making sure he maintains power of Rick's only son but never hurts or violates Carl in any way during their time together.
Still, Carl hates Negan more than anything and wants to see him dead. So much so that he eventually takes aim at him and winds up shooting Lucille.
The defiance was already on display in Service. Seeing the Saviors tease Enid certainly did not help.
Spencer's death in the comics was very much self-inflicted. The character chose not to trust Rick Grimes but, in doing so, made himself untrusthworthy. The new oppressor of Alexandria is not a fan of people he can't trust.
In issue #111, Rick is at the Kingdom speaking with Ezekiel but Negan makes a visit to Alexandria. While Alexandria tells Negan that Rick is out on a supply run, the menace chooses to post up on a vacant front porch where he is approached by Spencer Monroe.
"I understand what you're trying to do... To build here, with all these people," Spencer said. "I can't say I agree with all your methods, but I get it. You're building a network, and you're making people work together, contribute to a greater good... It all makes sense. Rick Grimes is not someone who works well with others. I'm just warning you."
The words appeared to have nabbed Negan's attention as Spencer went on.
"Rick wasn't originally the leader here," Spencer said. "It was my father and he was doing a much better job of it. Rick came along, with his group, and really wrecked things for us here. He's... Well... He's a maniac. That's the best way to put it. He may even want to work with you, but I'm telling you... This guy can't not be the boss."
It was all a play to get himself into a position of power.
"I am my father's son," Spencer said. "I think I can be the leader he was."
Negan heard Spencer out before walking around with him, disguising his anger with interest. He leads Spencer to believe he wants to talk about Rick's supply run but ultimately questions whether or not the last remaining member of the Monroe family has any guts. He rules that he doesn't before using a knife to slice Spencer's stomach open, leaving his guts hanging from his stomach.
He had guts along, Negan realizes.
Speaking to ComicBook.com in an exclusive interview, Austin Nichols weighed in on his character earning such a death.
"I remember reading the comics and going, 'Oh, my god. That death is f---ing awesome,'" Nichols said. "I sure hope he doesn't die, but everybody does eventually. If that was his death I think I'd be pretty proud of that death, a pretty cool death by Negan."
The first signs of Spencer betraying Rick were on display in Service as he stood up to him towards the end of the episode. Rick's response, threatening to break Spencer's jaw, likely only fueled the hatred.
Rosita and Eugene
Believe it or not, Rosita and Eugene form a relationship in The Walking Dead comics.
While Rosita appears to be building something with Spencer, it A) isn't built to last if his comic book death is realized and B) isn't going in Spencer's favor as Rosita seems disconnected from any interest, anyway.
The one man in Alexandria who manages to get Rosita's heart is Eugene, though it happens a bit further down the line from Negan's introduction. The episode ended with a tease of two significant storylines.
The first was Rosita and Eugene's relationship as she knocked on his door late at night, prompting viewers to suspect the often promiscuous character of being in search of something specific. It turned out, she was looking for help manufacturing bullets - a key element of the All Out War storyline.
"We talk about all the storylines on set like little kids getting fascinated to see where the show is going to go and what's going to happen," Rosita actress Christian Serratos tells ComicBook.com. "Scott Gimple has a really amazing way of keeping very true to the comic while also keeping it very interesting, meaning he doesn't necessarily put everything that happens in the comic book in the show."
Uniting the Kingdoms
The first suggestion of uniting the post-apocalyptic communities against the Saviors may have been overlooked by many as it came at a time when Rick Grimes opened up regarding Judith's real father.
Still, Michonne made the first comments about teaming up with the Hilltop to take on Negan's Saviors.
In the comics, Alexandria would have never had a chance against Negan's group if they tried to take them on alone. Instead, they teamed up with the Hilltop and the Kingdom to pool their people and resources for war.
"In Michonne's mind, there's always a way," Michonne actress Danai Gurira tells ComicBook.com. "There's always a way, but I think what's very frustrating for her at this point is that she doesn't have the right answer to convince [Rick]. She doesn't have it. When she says, 'There's the Hilltop,' and his response is 'It's numbers, it's numbers, it's numbers,' she can't really counter that yet. She doesn't have a counter argument and that, I think, is very frustrating for her because she believes there's a way but in a pragmatic sense, she doesn't have a big strategy at hand. I think that is very frustrating for her, because in her mind there's always way out of something like this. This is never where you're supposed to chill out and make a home, under these circumstances."
More shades of Michonne filling Andrea's role from the comics for television were shown on Sunday night. The obvious role of Rick's girlfriend has been in place for some time now but when Michonne took the rifle out into the field for target practice, comic books fans' minds immediately went to the top floor of the bell tower.
During one of Negan's visits to Alexandria, Andrea perched herself in the belltower and took aim at the Safe-Zone's oppressor. She is unable to get a clear shot of Negan but takes out one of his Saviors. She is consquently beaten and thrown from the tower but ultimately survives.
The moment seems to be in consideration for coming episodes of The Walking Dead, though Michonne's rifle is no longer in her possession.
"She was, at least at the beginning of the episode, trying to find a way to combat this issue in as effective a way as possible," Gurira said. "Of course, a gun can be a very effective way to handle something versus just her swords. We'll see if she gets to the point where she picks it back up again, or she gets one to pick back up again. They did just give them all their weapons."