Both creatively and ratings-wise, the first half of the seventh season has not been the best run of episodes for The Walking Dead. Every long-running show, however, is allowed its occasional bad stretch, and Andrew Lincoln has promised us a return to form in the back half of season seven. A few cryptic posters have even got some long-time The Walking Dead fans excited.
What we should not expect, however, is the death of Negan in the back half. He’s going to be around for multiple seasons. Based on the trailer and interviews, the back half of season seven will mostly be about coalition building: Rick will try and build alliances to eventually take on Negan. We may also see some exciting developments with Carol in the back half.
But it’s not just the back half of season seven that looks exciting. Robert Kirkman just published the latest issue of the graphic novel, Issue #163, and it portends a very thrilling future for the series, as well.
(Vague Comics Spoilers)
We don’t know how long The Walking Dead will eventually run, but based on the show’s ratings, 10 seasons is a virtual guarantee. If the rest of season seven is about building alliances, season eight will almost certainly center on the war between Rick’s alliances and Negan and the Saviors. Beyond that, the back half of season 8 and season 9 will probably cover The Whisperers. Kirkman has said that the Whisperers will not arrive anytime soon, but the series may have been teasing the villainous faction much earlier in the show’s run.
The television series covers about 15-17 issues of the graphic novel per season, which means that we’ll arrive at Issue #163 around the 10th season. Here is the cover of that issue.
For those not familiar with what the comics characters look like, that’s Rick Grimes. Rick Grimes is holding Lucille and wearing Negan’s jacket and the title of the issue is “Conquered.”
It’s a variant cover, meaning that Issue #163 has several covers, so this one could just be a goof, but based on the storyline in the run-up to #163, the cover is fitting. The title “Conquered,” also seems to suggest Negan may finally see his demise. That’s kind of a shame because, as comics readers know, Negan is not such a bad guy in the graphic novels anymore.
Granted, none of this may come to fruition in the television series. The show may choose to kill off Negan much sooner to both provide maximum impact for the end of the main Negan arc and to free Jeffrey Dean Morgan from his contract. But it’s also very possible that Negan could be around another three or four seasons, or more. As a The Walking Dead fan, I am excited to see how they tackle the possible evolution of Negan — it’s hard to imagine the television character ever being redeemed after killing both Glenn and Abraham and torturing Daryl. He is despicable right now and seems beyond redemption.
In either respect, it’s more evidence that the seventh season premiere’s Lucille’ing was not necessarily The Walking Dead‘s peak. There’s still a lot of exciting storylines yet to come, and maybe even this perfect ending five or six years into the future.