The Badger takes off. Artist: Mike Norton.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Capital Comics
First Appeared: 1983
Creators: Mike Baron (writer) and Jeffrey Butler (artist)
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Detractors of comic books sometimes focus on comics' dominant genre, arguing that the medium can't be any good because it lacks credible characters — a person would have to be crazy to be a superhero. That point of view is bolstered by The Badger, which was originally published by …

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… Capital Comics (Whisper) with a first-issue cover date of September, 1983. The story opened with the title character an involuntary inmate in a mental institution.

Comic book detractors have also been known to point out that a superhero's dual identity borders on the psychiatric condition called multiple personality disorder, and there, too, The Badger fits right in. Multiple personality disorder was one of the reasons he was locked up in the looney bin.

The Badger's original personality was Norbert Sykes, who had been abused both as a child and as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. His other personalities included a murder-inclined Frenchman, a homosexual architect and a 9-year-old girl. The dominant one was The Badger, a costumed vigilante with a finely-tuned but (from the perspective of sane people) warped sense of justice. The Badger was an expert practitioner of the martial arts and could, like Dr. Doolittle, talk to the animals, whose point of view he sometimes adopted. (For instance, his sense of justice has been known to induce anger at the sort of "racist swine" who discriminate against certain breeds of dog, such as pit bulls.)

Escaping the nuthouse with The Badger was Hamaglystwythbrnxaxlotl, or "Ham" for short, a 5th century Druid wizard who'd spent most of the intervening time in a spell-induced coma. Ham's mercenary instincts (that is, greed), combined with his ability to affect entrepreneurial activities through wizardry, enabled him to amass a fortune. After the escape, The Badger went to work for Ham, exchanging bodyguard services for room and board at Ham's castle in Wisconsin.

Capital Comics was originally in the comic book business as a Direct Market distributor. But Pacific Comics (Captain Victory), also a comics distributor, had branched out into publishing such titles as Starslayer and Ms. Mystic, so Capital got into the act too. In 1981 the company introduced a character by local writer Mike Baron (who has since written such mainstream characters as The Flash and The Punisher, called Nexus. They followed it up a couple of years later with another Baron character, The Badger, which it published as dark humor. The art was by Jeff Butler, whom Baron had known in high school, and who went on to draw The Green Hornet in one of his occasional comic book revivals.

Capital's sojourn in the publishing end of the business was brief. It got only four issues out before succumbing to the vissitudes of the comic book market. The last was dated April, 1994. After a year's hiatus, it was picked up by First Comics (Grimjack). That ccompany's first issue was #5 (May, 1985). It lasted several years, and was the subject of a graphic novel and a 4-issue mini-series at First. The final issue was #70 (August, 1991). Finally, First, too, got out of the comics publishing business.

In 1994, Dark Horse Comics (The Mask) published two mini-series about The Badger, totalling six issues. In '97, Image Comics (Witchblade) published The Badger as an ongoing series, combining the issue numbering of previous versions. Their first issue was #78 (May, 1997). It lasted until #88 (March, 1998).

Since then, the property has been dormant. But in 2007, IDW Publishing (Terry & the Pirates) launched a Badger series incorporating new and reprinted work.


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Text ©2009-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Mike Baron.