The Walking Dead returns in special one-shot issue Negan Lives #1, an all-new story catching up with an exiled Negan after he's spurned by a slowly rebuilding society. The first Walking Dead comic book published since creator Robert Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard ended the long-running series after 193 issues in July 2019, the surprise one-shot benefits comic book stores impacted by the COVID-19 crisis with no financial burden to retailers who will receive 100% of revenue generated by the book. Negan Lives will be sold exclusively at comic book shops Wednesday, July 1, marking the character's first full appearance since The Walking Dead #174 in December 2017.
Kirkman teased a Negan spinoff in the final issue of The Walking Dead, which jumped more than two decades into the future following a major death in the book's penultimate issue. Negan appeared in just one panel in the book's final issue, leaving his fate unknown.
Adlard claimed not to know what became of Negan, saying in a February interview, "He might be a zombie, for all we know. Even I don't know whether he's alive or dead."
Negan Lives gives readers a glimpse of Negan's life outside and away from the community of survivors led by Rick Grimes, where the former Savior leader was jailed before joining the fight against new enemy group the Whisperers.
The following are key issues of Walking Dead comics recommended for readers ahead of Negan's return in Negan Lives #1:
1. Here's Negan
Negan's backstory is revealed in 16-chapter prequel Here's Negan, where readers first learn how the foul-mouthed high school gym coach rose to power as the leader of the Saviors. Since collected in a hardcover edition, Here's Negan is set during the onset of the zombie apocalypse, before Negan and beloved barbwire-wrapped baseball bat Lucille first appeared in The Walking Dead #100.prevnext
2. The Walking Dead #100
The milestone 100th issue of The Walking Dead gives Rick Grimes and his group something to fear when Negan, the F-bomb dropping leader of the Saviors, subjugates Rick's people by beating Glenn to death with "vampire bat" Lucille after a twisted game of "eeny, meeny, miny, moe."prevnext
3. The Walking Dead #105
The Walking Dead #105 establishes a respect between Negan and young Carl Grimes, who infiltrated the Savior base and opened fire on Negan's men in the preceding issue. Readers see a softer side of Negan when he apologizes to Carl after humiliating the boy over his deformity — he lost an eye to a stray bullet in issue #83 — and the captured Carl is later returned to his father unharmed, creating a unique dynamic that would last through the final issue of the series.prevnext
4. The Walking Dead #113
Following a failed assassination attempt by Rick and partner Andrea inside Alexandria in issue #112, Negan reasserts control over the community by reminding Rick his people are outnumbered and outgunned. In issue #113, an enraged Negan threatens to quash Rick's revolt with a second Lucille lineup but refuses to kill the Alexandria leader to prevent him from becoming a "martyr."prevnext
5. The Walking Dead #125
The Walking Dead #125, the penultimate issue of All Out War - Part Two, ends the war against the Saviors when Rick seeks a peaceful resolution between both sides, saying his survivors are fighting for "a world without Negan." Moments after Negan agrees to Rick's proposition to unite their people and work together to rebuild civilization better than before, Rick draws a knife and slits Negan's throat.prevnext
6. The Walking Dead #126
In The Walking Dead #126, Rick declares an end to Negan's rule and the war before he's attacked and ultimately crippled by Negan. Rick then makes the unilateral decision to spare his enemy, ordering for Negan to be saved and jailed for his crimes. Vowing to rebuild society unimpeded by Negan, Rick tells the ousted Savior leader he's going to rot in prison until he dies an old man.prevnext
7. The Walking Dead #141
Two years post-war, Rick and the united communities have ushered in a new beginning by the time of The Walking Dead #141. When model prisoner Negan surprises Rick by remaining in his unlocked cell despite having the opportunity to flee — something he says is about "building trust" — he's refused a commuted sentence. During this time period, Negan acts as confidant for Carl through the bars of his cage.prevnext
8. The Walking Dead #156
After being freed from jail by one of Rick's enemies, a fugitive Negan falls in with new enemy group the Whisperers in the wake of a horrific attack committed by pack leader Alpha. Negan pledges his loyalty to Alpha before murdering her in The Walking Dead #156, later delivering her decapitated head to Rick to "earn trust." A rehabilitated Negan is then conscripted to serve on the front lines of the Whisperer War.prevnext
9. The Walking Dead #174
Told he'll "never live inside these walls," Negan is exiled from Alexandria as a free man after joining the militia against the Whisperers. Negan's solitary life in a remote outpost is interrupted in The Walking Dead #174 when he's confronted by Glenn's widow, Maggie Rhee, who ultimately refuses to execute Negan when he pleads for death. "You have to live with what you've done," Maggie tells him, leaving Negan alone. Negan is last seen burning his replica Lucille in what would be his final full appearance.prevnext
10. The Walking Dead #1930comments
More than 20 years later, Carl Grimes regularly delivers supplies to a reclusive Negan. He appears without a word in the final issue of The Walking Dead, where a single panel reveals a shadowy Negan visiting a cenotaph honoring wife Lucille. Negan's isolation will be revealed in Negan Lives #1, sold only in comic book stores starting Wednesday, July 1.
For all things TWD, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.prev