The Badger is a comic book character and series created by writer Mike Baron in 1982.
The series ran until the 1990s, when it was cancelled along with the other comics titles under the First Comics imprint. A new series from IDW Publishing began in late 2007.
The series was a madcap combination of genres; something of a spoof on superheroes, with plenty of magic/fantasy and Mike Baron's in-depth knowledge of martial arts thrown in. The book was a black comedy, unusual for comics of its time. Some stories were light-hearted and off the wall, while others featured highly realistic crimes and acts of violence. Some objected to the series' use of the mentally ill as subjects for comedy. Others regard The Badger as one of the funniest superhero comic series of all time.
The Badger was mostly set in Madison, Wisconsin, where Capital Comics was situated, and where Baron actually lived. The city in general, and State Street in particular, were very faithfully depicted. In one case, the Badger had a duel with a close analogue of locally noted real-life gourmet chef Herb Ng over Ng's use of a snake's poison-bladder in a special soup.
Along with Mike Baron's other pet project Nexus, The Badger had an interesting publishing history. It was initially released by Capital Comics, but Capital went under financially after four issues of The Badger. The series found a new publisher in First Comics, which continued the series with issue #5.
Notable artists who worked on The Badger in its 1980s run included Jeff Butler, Steven Butler, Bill Reinhold, Chas Truog, Jackson Guice, Mike Mignola and Ron Lim.
The lead character was Norbert Sykes, a Vietnam war veteran suffering from multiple personality disorder. "The Badger", an urban vigilante who could talk to animals, was just one of his personalities. Bizarrely, he would often call people "Larry", and it was later revealed that "Larry" was the name of his stepfather. After escaping from a mental institution, Norbert met a 5th century Druid named Ham (Hamaglystwythbrnxaxlotl in full), who had just awakened from an 800 year coma (this was later corrected in dialogue where it was noted that Ham's coma lasted 1500 years). Ham took the Badger in as a boarder in his castle in return for the Badger's bodyguard services. Other characters included Norbert's caseworker Daisy, Vietnamese martial arts expert (and Norbert's wife) Mavis, and Lord Weterlackus, a demon who empowered Ham until they had a falling out. Prior to his coma, Ham would sacrifice children in his castle in Wales (Ham was placed in a mystical coma for 1500 years by all the other wizards), but after his resurrection he would sacrifice animals (which enraged the Badger) or computer files. Ham would use his power over weather to influence markets and generate wealth for himself; occasionally his supernatural dealings would bring him into conflict with demons, whom the Badger would then be called upon to fight.
The first four issues of Badger
were published by Capital Comics
(under the name The Badger
), beginning in 1983
. Capital went bankrupt in 1984
, and in 1985
Baron took his creation to First Comics
. First reprinted the first four issues, and then published monthly issues of Badger, including the Hexbreaker graphic novel
. A spin-off 4-issue miniseries ran concurrently with the regular series in 1989
, called Badger Goes Berserk
, which explored Norbert's childhood and his abuse at the hands of his stepfather and stepbrother, now white supremacists
who he encountered again in the mini-series. Badger sometimes guest-starred in Mike Baron's other series, the space opera Nexus
, which took place in the future. Badger would imagine these episodes to be psychotic hallucinations, which he took in stride as being no more bizarre than the rest of his life. In 1991
First Comics published Badger Bedlam
, a one-shot
"First Publishing Deluxe-Format Special" by Baron, Butler, and Ken Branch, but then went bankrupt. Badger also featured in First's 5-issue Crossroads
In 1994, Dark Horse Comics published two versions of the Badger: the four-issue Badger: Shattered Mirror , a "serious" take on the Badger's origin, and the two-issue Badger: Zen Pop Funny-Animal Version. These were deliberately written to be mutually exclusive.
In 1997, Image Comics began publishing a black and white fourth Badger series, whose narrative connection to the previous versions was not entirely clear. This series ran for eleven issues.
The series returned November 2007, published by IDW Publishing. This consists of a reprint series of trade paperbacks of old issues, as well two new Badger stories: a one shot, Badger: Bull, followed by a new mini-series, Badger Saves the World which started in December 2007.
Personalities of the Badger
- Norbert Sykes: This is his legal identity.
- The Badger: A martial arts expert (4th or 5th dan in Shotokan Karate, plus many other arts) costumed vigilante dispensing bare-fisted justice to bullies and aggressors of the innocent, but according to his own warped perceptions. He often defended animals or environmental causes.
- Pierre: Homicidal personality that speaks with a French accent. First appeared when Ham tried to awake Sykes from his first Emily personality transformation.
- Leroy: A dog. Sykes had a dog named Leroy who his stepfather Larry beat to death.
- Emily: Nine year old girl. Related to childhood abuse at the hands of Sykes' stepfather Rollin Sykes.
- Gastineau Grover Depaul: Inner city African American. Unlike the others, he is unaware of the other Personalities.
- Max Swell: Architect. Early on Max was written as an epicurean, sophisticated playboy but appeared to morph into a stereotypical gay man later in the series.
The various comics are being collected into trade paperbacks, all published by IDW Publishing:
- ''The Complete Badger:
- Volume 1 (176 pages, November 2007, ISBN 1600101291)
- Volume 2 (152 pages, March 2008, ISBN 1600101607)
- Volume 3 (132 pages, June 2008, ISBN 1600102204)
- Volume 4 (144 pages, September 2008, ISBN 1600102352)
- Badger Saves the World (152 pages, July 2008, ISBN 1600101860)