[ISSUE 124 and 125 SPOILERS AHEAD]
At the end of issue 124, Rick’s crew discovered Negan and his Saviors attacked them with weapons that were contaminated with Walker goo. The members of Rick’s camp who were injured in battle began to run fevers and turn into Walkers. Rick was among the wounded, so readers waited with baited breathe for 125.
Luckily, readers found Rick in good health at the top of the new issue. His covert Savior ally, Dwight, used an uncontaminated arrow to shoot Rick. This gave Rick’s camp an advantage. Negan arrogantly believed Rick’s people would bow to him without their fearless leader.
It didn’t take Negan long to try to claim his prize, but he didn’t anticipate Rick greeting him. The Negan/ Rick encounter has left fans torn.
Megalomaniac Negan stood quietly as Rick simultaneously flung insults and preached unity. When Rick was done with his sermon, Negan, Mr. May Way or Die, had an unprecedented change of heart. He agreed with Rick! Pages earlier, Negan was determined to desecrate Rick’s corpse, so his sudden acceptance did not sit right with many readers.
Comments on thewalkingdead.com forum range from elation to utter disappointment. Throughout his ‘Walking Dead’ run, Negan has been a complex villain. He rationalized his horrific actions in the the name of maintaining order and believed he acted for the greater good. His code was always do things his way, or die- or get your face melted with an iron.
His ego would never tolerate Rick’s degradation or accept Rick as an equal. His wide eyed, you are right reaction to Rick’s proposal seems out of place for most readers commenting on forums. I thought his acceptance was a ruse to disarm Rick and go in for the kill. Boy was I wrong. No one foresaw what came next.
When Rick is certain that Negan is on board with the new world order, Rick steps in and slits Negan’s throat. Rick the ruthless is in full swing. So why did he go on about unity when his plan was always murder?
Rick likely preached plans for a brighter future to win support from Negan’s Saviors. In a previous issue, Negan told Rick that Rick would be better off cutting Negan’s throat. He followed that invitation with a warning. His Saviors would kill Rick before Negan’s body hit the ground. Perhaps Rick’s hopeful portrait was enough to distinguish vengeance.
The issue ends with Negan staring at Rick in shock with a seemingly shallow neck wound.
Do you think Negan’s change of heart was out of character? Do you think Negan will survive the slashing, or is his fate sealed? You can post your predictions for the final installment of “All Out War” in the comment section.