Robert Kirkman, writer of The Walking Dead, promised Newsarama that readers will finally learn about the mysterious villain named Negan in this week's issue #100.
But as we count down the days to the oversized issue, Newsarama got a little help from series creator Robert Kirkman to listing some of our favorite characters, villains and moments in the first 99 issues of the series.
This time around, we look at the villains – 5 of them – and what is surprising about their role in The Walking Dead is that they are so much more important to the story of the survivors than the actual zombies. In fact, the zombies fall pretty low on the list of threats when you look at the dangers posed by some of the human villains in the series.
- Thomas and the PrisonersWhen Rick's group found a prison complete with barbed wire fences, beds and generators, it seemed like the perfect place to ride out the zombie apocalypse.
But they soon discovered they weren't alone. There were a few prisoners still surviving in the cafeteria, and some of them didn't take too kindly to being part of civilized society again — particularly when civilized society pretty much didn't exist anymore.
What happened after that included some of the most shocking moments in the book, like Thomas beheading two little girls and giving Andrea that nasty scar on her cheek. And once the survivors eliminated the threat of Thomas, they had to deal with Dexter and Andrew's defection.
What followed was a moment that we think is a key one for the series, and it's what makes these villains an important part of Walking Dead history. As Rick and the other members fought off a zombie attack, Rick made one of his first choices to kill a person who threatened the group, using the excuse of friendly fire to "accidentally" put a bullet in Dexter's head. "Oops."
- Chris and the HuntersWhile Chris and his "Hunters" did a lot of things that made them villains, probably the sickest part of their history was that they ate their kids to stay alive. And when that young meat ran out, they targeted Rick and his group.
But for readers of The Walking Dead, they were truly villains for what they did to Dale. While fans of the Walking Dead TV show might have been disturbed by the death of Dale toward the end of the second season, that death wasn't nearly as nasty as the one in the comics. Let's just say it's better to go quickly at a zombie feeding than slowly at a human feeding.
These villains were another key group in the series as Rick evolved as a character. He made sure that Chris and the Hunters paid for their crimes. This was a new Rick — one who had lost most of the people he loved and several of the friends who had counted on him. He wasn't taking a chance again. And, we suspect, it felt good to brutally kill this group of cannibals after not being able to control the attack at the prison.
- NeganWe don't know much about Negan yet, but it's obvious that he's being built into the next major villain in The Walking Dead. And if his brutal relationship with the Hilltop is any indication, his confrontation with Rick's group at the Alexandria safe-zone will be unforgiving and brutal.
Rick's band barely survived its confrontation with the Governor. Will the battle with Negan be worse? Is it fair to compare them?
We asked Kirkman for his take: "In a lot of ways, I always looked at the Governor like he was a guy that wanted to lead people and protect people, and he just went about it the wrong way," Kirkman said. "There were a couple of things that happened to the Governor along the way that didn't happen to Rick. And if those things hadn't happened, he would have been just like Rick. And if a couple of things happened to Rick, he would be just like the Governor. And I always looked at those guys like they were the same side of the same coin.
"With Negan, he is kind of going be like Rick perfected," Kirkman said. "He's going to be a Rick who is way more together and way more prepared and is much better suited for this environment, and is much more in control of his situation. And that could be completely terrifying."
- ShaneAlthough Shane didn't last too long in the comic book, he makes the second spot on our list because he was the first person to target Rick and force the type of dramatic human-to-human confrontation that makes The Walking Dead so different from other zombie stories.
He was also the first person we saw being drastically affected by the experience of living after a zombie apocalypse. He turned from a seemingly decent guy into a kill-or-be-killed enemy over the course of just a few issues.
But he was also just the earliest indication that things were going to get very interesting in The Walking Dead.
- The GovernorThere's really no contest on this one, is there? With The Walking Dead TV show prepping for a Season 3 introduction of The Governor, it's clear he's a fan-favorite. And Kirkman said he'll still be the villain we know and love when he gets to television: "The Governor on the TV show is definitely the Governor that's in the comic book. We're not going to be reinventing the wheel too much on that."
Kirkman said he thinks the Governor became so popular among fans because he was the first of his kind in the series, and he really defined what The Walking Dead would be from that point on.
"The Governor did some really horrible things, and I think by that point in the Walking Dead series, I don't think people considered what I was doing with the book, really," he said. "I think that, up until that point, I got a lot of letters saying, 'Oh, the book is really good, but how are they going to keep fighting zombies for 100 issues?' And I don't think people had really considered just how dangerous people can be and how the book was really going to focus on that moving forward.
"I think the Governor was the first instance of, 'Whoa, this guy is doing horrible shit, and it's completely believable, so this is the kind of antagonist we're going to be experiencing in this series?'" Kirkman said. "And I think it was really a wake up call for readers, because I think a lot of people, up to that point, thought we'd be showing Rick and his band of survivors running around and killing zombies for hundreds of issues.
"I think the Governor is an important moment in the series that says, 'Oh, no, no, the book is this.' And he just touched a nerve in people that hadn't been touched before, as readers realized what The Walking Dead really is."
- 10 Best THE WALKING DEAD Moments of Season 2
- THE WALKING DEAD #100: ROBERT KIRKMAN Talks Fan-Favorite Characters
- ROBERT KIRKMAN: Why TV's WALKING DEAD Translates to Comics Sales