At the New York Comic-Con Walking Dead panel, executive producer and creator Robert Kirkman focused on the comic series, which he writes himself, rather than the AMC drama. There weren't any Daryl spoilers, for example. However, as those who anticipated the arrival of Negan and his friendly bat Lucille can attest, what's happening now in the comics could affect and inform what happens next on the show. Namely, the possibility that Rick and Negan could team up on The Walking Dead came up at NYCC. Those who are caught up with The Walking Dead comics already know that this is what happens — but for those of us who just met Negan on the AMC series and don't yet know who he killed, it seems unfathomable.
In the comics, which as far as storylines go are still way ahead of the television show, a war is beginning between Rick Grimes and and a group called "The Whisperers," which the panel noted is going to be difficult for the actors to say if/when they get to that point. Due to this new threat, Rick and Negan have to work together. "It's a classic team-up," said Jason Mantzoukas, who moderated the panel. "Rick and Negan. Together at last."
Mantzoukas noted that one of the scary things about The Whisperers is that they seem intent on dragging everyone back to lawlessness and chaos. A desire for order is something that both Rick and Negan have in common, even if they would describe order in very different ways. He also that this "mask of terror" is unlike other TWD villains in that its not a singular threat like The Governor or Negan. The Whisperers don't have a leader. They don't use their own faces (long story) and they barely use names.
I think it's likely that The Walking Dead will ultimately team these two characters up, whether it's against "The Whisperers" or not. (Mantzoukas suggested "The Quiet Talkers" as an alternate, TV-friendly title). Sure, some things about Negan will be different on the show. He can't be as profane, due to network restrictions, but Kirkman isn't worried about that. However, there's nothing more classic than two adversaries working together against a common enemy. Negan may do something terrible in the Season 7 premiere, but who hasn't in this apocalypse?
Image: Gene Page/AMC