Freddie Kruger, Jason Voorhees, that creepy wooden puppet doll from the Saw movies: pfft. Call those characters villains? They’re child’s play (pun intended) compared to The Walking Dead’s Negan.
“Negan? Who the shit is Negan?” we hear you cry. Well, that’s a great question. Although yet to formally make his presence felt on the long-running AMC series, he’s somewhat renowned in the graphic novels that the show was adapted from as a formidable foe. Think of a big, uncompromising bastard who’s quite fond of wrapping barbed wire around his baseball bat and smashing the living daylights out of some of our favourite characters – that’s your Negan, right there, and he’s about to change the game.
Before we continue, a quick note – here come the spoilers, all the spoilers, so run away now if you’re not fully up to date with events in our favourite zombie universe. OK? Cool.
Season six – which only has three episodes left to run – has meandered somewhat without the physical presence of a big baddie figure that we can all hate from behind the safety of our sofas, but, in the past couple of episodes, a number of people who the main cast have interacted with (and then usually brutally murdered) have spoke of a “Negan” in reverential tones. These warnings – which is how they should be interpreted, make no mistake about it – have come after our intrepid band of survivors’ attempts to wipe out a seemingly-evil group called the Saviours, who in turn have spoken about the new antagonist in a very weird and cryptic manner.
“We’re all Negan,” has been the general gist of the puzzling answers that have been given to Rick and co. as to who, where or what the leader of Saviors is. And so, with precious few clues available about the precise identity of this enemy (apparently he is loosely based on Henry Rollins, which is a little strange), fans of the show have turned to the source text: the Walking Dead comic books. They’ve paid particular attention to the arrival of Negan in issue #100, where he’s introduced through the medium of – again, spoilers, spoilers, all the spoilers – bashing Glenn’s brains in. Yikes.
Last month, NME had the pleasure of meeting some of the stars and creative honchos behind The Walking Dead, where we put it to them that, if Negan was to arrive in a manner that stayed true to the comic books, it would surely mean the end for Glenn.
“At this point the comic is more of a geographical blueprint,” revealed Michael Cudlitz, who plays the no-nonsense Abraham in the show. Director Greg Nicotero echoed those sentiments: ‘I don’t think we want to do everything from the comic. There are certain things we think would have pushed us into a different place which we might not recover from. We’re relatively dark but it’s still in a fantasy kind of way.”
So there you have it – don’t believe everything you read, including the Walking Dead graphic novels, apparently. But with the walkers now almost an amusing sideshow to the main action – with a good number of years fighting the undead under their belts, you hardly expect Rick or Daryl to tamely bow out of the show to a zombie bite, are you – the arrival of Negan is set to galvanise the show in a way not seen since we thought The Governor was the scariest motherfucker left in a very sparsely-populated world. And what better way to scare/upset/get viewers talking than by permitting this big bad wolf of a villain to take out one of the most beloved characters?
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Be afraid of Negan, be very afraid.