Just over a year ago, The Walking Dead finally released the backstory to the villain that everyone loves, and everyone loves to hate- the dreaded Negan- by the title of Here’s Negan . Here’s Negan was a mini comic series featured along with other mini comic series in Image+ and was originally suppose to only have twelve parts until it was announced in December of last year to be extended to sixteen total parts and be compiled into a hardcover edition. On July 26ths, 2017 ,Here’s Negan was finally wrapped up. Despite having come to a hard close, it seems as though there is still room to speculate theories about Negan’s backstory, as well as room for critique.
Prior to the release of Here’s, fans were lead to believe that Negan was a former car salesman, which is a pretty plausible career move for Negan because of his persuasive nature, loud mouth, and charm. To learn his is a school teacher, or at the very least a coach, is surprising for more than a few reasons, the main reason being his language and overall personality. That being said, it does bring an interesting link to how he is with Carl in the present day Walking Dead. Note how easy it is him to give advice to Carl, or how easily he takes to him despite his age, and appreciates his skill. If he was a gym teacher, however, it brings an interesting question- just what did he say (or do) that made him cautious discussing sex with kids?
Another thing I found interesting was how his wife (Lucille) looks in comparison to the wives in his harem of Sanctuary. There’s no denying the wives in his harem are more modelesque, and Negan might even have a few years on them as their senior. Lucille, on the other hand, while still gorgeous in design, is not quite as modelesque. If anything, she would be beautifully average, may even have a few years on Negan, Even down to the way she’s dressed is a drastic change: the wives wore lingerie, Lucille wore a long skirt and a blouse. To go further, Lucille resembles Olivia (the woman he called “fat” and offered to “Screw her brains out) more so than the Wives. If they do go as far as including Lucille visually into the show, I hope they keep her design as average, and not quite as effeminate as the wives because it is an interestingly stark difference in just what Negan has an interest in.
Part two opens up as Negan tries to wake up his wife, who we still have no canon name for in the series. She is taken to the hospital, and readers are acquainted with brief montage of Negan in his daily life: coaching, working out, and eventually it is revealed he is having an affair. In the midst of the act, Negan is not entirely invested in it, to which his mistress has to ask what’s wrong. At the end of part two, we find out that Lucille has cancer.
While the cancer and/or sickness story line is rather overdone, it does add to Negan’s character, making it so Lucille may have an inevitable end, and thus something to push guilt into Negan regardless of if the world was walker infested. It is also interesting to think that this may be what drives Negan's "no cheating" policy with the wife system later on. Of course, Negan could also be selfish, but Here's Negan gives more reason later on to believe that his own guilt is what drives Sanctuary to be as strict as it is.
One thing that is bothersome about this story is the lack of story behind why he cheated exactly. It can be assumed that Lucille knew about the cheating before, but simply did not say anything, by the scene when Negan admits he "broke it off" without elaborating on what "it" is.
Lucille: Now?! You wait for this to end it?! Why?
Negan: I don’t need it. I don’t...want it anymore. I just want you. I just want us to be together.
Lucille: Well, you’re not going to have that for very long. What’s wrong with you? Why would you pick the sick one?
It is not entirely out of the question that Negan may have cheated because of Lucille, however that does not place blame on Lucille in itself. It is never specified what kind of cancer Lucille has. Could it be that Negan started cheating because Lucille was not as intimate as she was before, and thus driving him to "taste the leg" (later explained) a little more than he needed to? It would explain the guilt he has, and the line he says later on in the chapter:
"If I’d been there for you...and not..if I didn’t...would you have been strong enough to fight this?”
Whether it was intentional or not, parts four and five mark one of four key moments when Negan really turns into the man he is in modern day Walking Dead with the simple fact that he does not get to give Lucille a full goodbye. It would make sense, seeing as how attached he is to the baseball bat, and seeing the funeral he holds for it post-whisper war. Instead of a full goodbye, he simply says "it's probably best you're sleeping through this." as he takes note of the zombies outside her window, which is probably a worse send off than a "goodbye," not to mention he does not get the chance to kill her zombie form- the ultimate closure of the zombie genre.
Key moment number two happens in part six when we see Negan save a teenage boy from two zombies, and then is unable to cope with the idea he murdered two people. It takes the teenage boy to snap him out of it and tell him they are dead, but he still finds it to be a hard pill to swallow. This is one area where a reader can draw sympathy for the big bad villain, as it is a stark contrast to how readers (and viewers) first meet him, killing Glenn (and Abraham) in what looks to be cold blood.
By part seven it is safe to say if there is no sympathy felt towards Negan, then there is no hope for the viewer. If there is one thing that we know about Negan it is that he strives off of people being dependent on him so much so as to name his own group of survivors the "Saviors", and use the slogan "the rules keep us alive!" in order to maintain order. While his ways may be cruel, it is hard to blame him when he has had countless members of society die under his watch: a teenage boy, a group of guys no older than what appears to be twenty-five, a family of two (which use to be three), a woman who had just lost her husband and later dies in an attack, and finally a pair of siblings, one dies in Walmart, and the other gets bit.
This is what can be seen as trigger number three of four, as Negan does not take kindly to all these incidents and eventually tells her in not so kind words: “ You’re bit? F*ck you! (...) I’m sick to death of this sh*t! (...) I’m sick of you people! You’re all f*cking weak! All you ever do is die, so go die.”
And it continues when we finally meet Dwight and Sherry, and as Dwight tries to introduce him to his own group, and Negan simply says that if they live past a few days, then he will learn their names. It is clear he has adopted the mantra that if one can not strive for survival, then they are as good as dead.
During the beginning of "All Out War", Negan and Dwight were sitting around a campfire with multiple other Saviors and Dwight begins to act hostile, and Negan says "I know we have a history." Since that line, it has been a mystery what exactly that history is. One would assume that it was simply Negan taking his wife, but there could not be more turmoil, and more interesting.
We know that Negan is notorious for being all talk, and for being a sex crazed man with hardly any boundaries- but who knew he would be right about Sherry being a ladder climber?
It was a good move to include this because many would assume that Negan flirted with Sherry first, but seeing how she quickly starts to take interest in Negan sets off alarms for just what she fancies-power. When Negan started to take control (unintentionally) of Dwight's group, Sherry immediately begins to take to his standoffish personality and the way he acts. It is no surprise that she is a wife, head wife in Sanctuary, or pulls the stunt on Rick. Not only was this good development for Negan and Dwight's relationship, but Sherry as well.
And back to Dwight, after the war with Negan, he claims he can't lead when Rick makes him leader, and then later turns on him after the Whisper War. This development is a personal favorite in the comics due to how long it truly takes Dwight to regain his abilities after Negan takes his group from him. (but let's be honest, in an apocalypse, if someone says a spot is too close to an infested hotel, you move!) Not to mention how in denial Dwight is about what happened with Sherry and Negan, thinking Negan was at fault for their break up.
Ever since the shower scene in issue 140, everyone has been wondering just how Negan got his scar. Turns out, it was a rapist! Who knew?
In all seriousness, issue thirteen marks the fourth and final trigger that really digs Negan's grave in the apocalypse. Dwight, Negan, and their group meet another group of surviving men and women, and all was well until the leader offered Negan the chance to take advantage of a lady he had just given his jacket. The two men get into an altercation after Negan tells him that way of life needs to stop. The other shoves him into a pile of barbed wire, and this the infamous scar is born. This is also the first victim of the infamous Lucille (despite not having the name until the final issue).
Just shortly before all of this, he states "We have guns too, and we don't aim them at the living. Trust me on that." It goes to show even the good ones need to draw fear if it means keeping people safe.
The final part of Here's Negan doesn't fail to pack a punch as Negan finally takes control. Of all monologues to be published in Walking Dead history, Negan's rise to power is one of the most chilling and saddening ones to read. (you can read it here)
It is Negan's own "we are the walking dead" speech, taking control, outlining his own twisted ideology of how to survive the apocalypse. The conclusion to Here's Negan perfectly outlines just what people have been saying all along- Negan is Rick Grimes gone rogue. It paints the image that there are multiple ways to handle the rapture, and some choose different than others.
Just like Kirkman said in San Diego, "I think you could argue that Negan’s actions are at least rational to him especially as we've got deeper and deeper into that character, he’s someone that’s willing to do that horrible thing and does the horrible thing very often but it’s always for a reason. Whether or not you agree with that reason or whether or not he’s wrong about that reason can always be debated," and it could not have been painted more perfectly through the issue.
Although there are a few unanswered questions about Negan (Lucille's cancer, how long was the affair, his last name) that leave reader's minds wondering, it is worth a read for the comic and show fan bases to get a look at Negan's origins and understand not everyone can keep it together quite like Rick Grimes, and that monsters are made, not born.
The entire backstory is to be released in hardcover October 4th, 2017, or you can read the entire series online at comicmad.com.