Rick Grimes Battles Negan in an All Out War
Fans across the world celebrated the release of THE WALKING DEAD #115 at New York City Comic Con last year, by not only attending the 10th Anniversary The Walking Dead Comic panel but also by purchasing the limited edition NYCC cover issue. For those who did not attend NYCC 2013, there was still a lot of celebrating to be had with thousands attending midnight release parties throughout the United States.
With the introduction of the most intense storyline in the series to date: ALL OUT WAR, written by Robert Kirkman with art by Charlie Adlard, instantly sold out at the distributor and at NYCC, selling over 352,000 copies on the day of release.
“We’re doing a lot of things to celebrate the 10th anniversary,” said Robert Kirkman. “One cool thing we got going on is this new storyline called ‘All Out War’… Issue 115 came out on Wednesday (October 9)… We’re really excited about the fact that we’re sold out… we’ve also have had a pretty large print run on this one. We’ve sold over 352,000 copies of issue 115, which certainly took me by surprise. I’m really excited that we’re sold out… That’s our highest selling single issue yet.”
The War Begins
The ‘All Out War’ story arch begins with Rick Grimes about to start his war against Negan, who is the leader of a survivor group called The Saviors. These “saviors” are basically a large gang of degenerates who terrorize other survivor communities and extort them for half their supplies under the guise of protecting them from “roamers”. At this point the Saviors have killed Glenn and Abraham Ford, and Rick has sworn to Maggie that he will revenge Glenn’s death.
Rick has organized his survivor community along with several others in order to usurp Negan. It is a long and hard battle and many die on both sides, even a few allegiances switch. In the end, Rick is triumphant, Negan’s rule comes to an end and Dwight (one of Negan’s top soldiers) takes over The Saviors, and takes his group home, vowing to them it will be better under his rule.
The War is Finally Over
I must admit that I have not read every issue, and have not always read those I did from cover-to-cover. There have been times where I found the story to be slow and/or uninteresting, and I did skim pages. However, with the introduction of foul-mouthed sociopath Negan in issue #100, the comic suddenly became interesting again. The ‘All Out War’ story arch has been pretty much a blood-soaked battle of wits and wills, and after six months, Robert Kirkman brought it to an end in issue #126.
I was a bit disappointed in its underwhelming conclusion. My issue lies in the lead into the big cliffhanger. After all the blood and guts, the death and destruction that resulted from Negan and his Saviors, you wanted Rick to really make him suffer for the pain and agony he inflicted on his victims, many times with great cruelty. So when Rick confront Negan and began trying to sway him from the dark side, I was a bit astonished that Negan stood and listened to Rick’s drawn out discourse about being productive and rebuilding society. That quickly turned to being aghast when Negan bought into it, agreeing Rick was right. This is NOT the Negan I grew to love and hate. That Negan would of told Rick to go “F” himself in some unique way that only spew out of Negan’s vulgar mouth. It was out of character.
In response to a fan’s question during Robert Kirkman’s Reddit AMA (March 19, 2014) on whether he planned on writing any more prose novels, Kirman responded, “There will be more novels. Jay Bonansinga is killing it with those books and I’m really excited about doing more.”
Although I must admit I did enjoy Rick sucker knifing Negan in the throat, I was surprised that Robert Kirkman let him live. One would think that with the success of the novels based on the life and death of The Governor, the obvious choice would be to follow up with a Negan novel, since he was not expected to survive. But Kirkman went on to say, “No novelization for Negan. He’ll get a larger back story if he doesn’t DIE before the end of the ‘All-Out War’ storyline.” And he doesn’t die. So perhaps this back story will take place as flashbacks according to fan speculation on the Internet, and perhaps that’s why we’ve been seeing those mysterious “a new beginning” covers.
The problem I have with the end of the story arch also carries over through the finale chapter. Rick continues his tirade with telling The Saviors to disarm and he would save Negan from bleeding out, but has Michonne and Ezekiel flank and ambush Negan’s group. Later, when Maggie, Carl and Andrea confront Rick and tells him Negan needs to be executed, Rick tells them, “No. That’s not who we are. That’s not what we do. That’s… It’s who we were,” even though he suckered Negan and his group with all his spouting about change and cooperation, which was just a ruse to get the upper hand, showing that he is as opportunistic as the next person.
Negan was a far more evil and sadistic character than The Governor, which made him more interesting and truly drove the story and boosted sales. I think Robert Kirkman let him live, just so he could have something to fall back on if readership dips, again. Negan could certainly escape from prison and go after Rick. I hope I’m right.