I’m so glad to see the Badger back again. Norbert Sykes is one of the most fun characters in comics history. He’s an expert fighter, an animal lover, a friend of the common people, and, oh yeah, a sufferer from multiple personality disorder. Norbert is a complex but not complicated man, and the industry needs more characters like Norbert. He may be messed up, but Norbert is a happy guy. He may suffer from MPD, but the Badger is a man who knows who he really is. He may be weird, but his best friend is even weirder.
Badger’s best buddy is Hammaglystwyth, or Ham, a 13th century Pagan weather wizard with whom Badger shares his castle – there’s lots of room in the place, after all. In this issue, Ham seems to be called by some sort of demon for mysterious purposes. There are bizarre scenes of crows flying from cakes, and, in a total non sequitur, a Balinese demon appears out of nowhere in order to fight the Badger. Yeah, it’s that kind of comic; the kind of comic where really odd things happen for little or no reason. But somehow in those events there seems to be a deeper pattern.
What’s always made Badger such a great comic is that Baron can go from bizarre outlandish scenes to really human scenes, and back again. That juxtaposition really gives this comic its unique edge. So it is that the bizarre stories of Ham’s demon problems occur right next to Badger fighting Pavlov Kruathammer, a terrorist bent on blowing people up, often using dogs. That’s a truly horrific crime, and feels frighteningly possible. Since these are street-level sorts of events, this comic has a firm grounding in reality. Badger has no super-powers – he’s just a very good martial artist who’s kind of crazy. But in his world that almost seems like it’s right outside our windows, he’s as super as super gets.
I did have some trouble with Kevin Caron’s artwork. As Baron discusses on his text page, Caron is a new artist, and there are many scenes where that shows. His figure work is a bit rubbery, making his figures feel a bit too unrealistic for this sort of plot. And I found his art sometimes hard to follow – I don’t get the transition between panels 1 and 2 on page 18, for instance.
But to me the art didn’t really detract from the story too much. It’s great seeing the Badger back, and Mike Baron is back to his classic, vintage ways all over again.