The Walking Dead, which came to an end last July, is returning with something unexpected next month: Robert Kirkman, the writer and creator of the comics, is teaming up with artists Charlie Adlard to present Negan Lives! – a spin-off issue focused on the bat-wielding, post-apocalyptic dictator. The 38-page special will explore what happens to Negan after his final appearance in The Walking Dead #174, taking place within the chronology of the comic book series some time during or after the time jump introduced in issue #193.
But Kirkland and Adlard are motivated by far more than mere nostalgia, as Negan Lives! #1 is part of an industry- wide initiative to support struggling comic shops as they reopen and recover from the economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic (which included distributor Diamond Comics halting shipments for several weeks). Accordingly, Image and Skybound are making the issue entirely free to retailers, including waiving the shipping cost.
“I’ve been inspired by Steve Geppi and Diamond’s efforts to shine a light on how essential the Direct Market is to our beloved industry with their #backthecomeback campaign,” said Kirkman in Skybound’s press release, “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.”
The special one-shot issue will not be available digitally and will be released exclusively at comic book shops. When readers last saw Negan, he was just tracked down by Maggie, fueled by a vengeful rage against her husband Glenn’s killer, only to discover that Negan had been reformed by his time as Rick’s prisoner. No doubt this new issue will reveal to us whether he remains on a righteous path, how he reacts to Rick’s assassination and whether he ultimately finds happiness in a world recovering from the zombie apocalypse.
Negan Lives #1 is priced at $4.99 and is scheduled for release on Wednesday, July 1. The issue will also be released on the same day as the Fire Power, Vol. 1: Prelude original graphic novel and the FCBD Fire Power #1 free promotional comic, both by Kirkman and co-creator/artist Chris Samnee.