I just read the first issue of the latest reboot of 80’s indie superhero Badger recently released by Devil’s Due and the formerly defunct First Comics. Seeing it and it’s retro looking cover on the shelf brought back some great days of hanging out in weirdo dingy comic book shops in the 1980’s with my brother in Wisconsin. Badger took place in Wisconsin and back in the day I used to collect this series, admittedly a bit confused by it’s incredibly offbeat characters and story arcs at times back then. Still the character was always unique, a mentally ill crime fighter with multiple personalities who lived in a castle in Wisconsin with a wizard named Ham. I mean what’s not to love right?
Well Mike Baron the original creator is back with a current retelling of the character’s origin in a pretty neat-o first issue. Issue one starts off with Norbert Sykes (our protagonist) as he signs up for the military and heads off to Afghanistan where he quickly begins to go crazy. He’s paired up with dog named Otis, who he clearly relates to more than any of the soldiers and heads off into the battlefield. It’s not long before his animal companion becomes a casualty of war and Norbert’s taken captive by enemy forces. While held prisoner he’s visited by a spirit animal, in the form of you guessed it a Badger! He agrees to devote his life fighting for the rights of the animals of earth and then embarks on a crazy killing spree against the enemy. He’s soon detained, shipped back to the good ol’ USA and institutionalized. It’s here where we first start to see again this is by no means your average origin story.
The issue was a good debut, however I think they could have really spread this one story over two issues to really build his origin in an even more powerful way. It felt a bit rushed at times and I hope they slow the pace down just a bit and really let us get to know just what makes this dude tick. The story was also a darker more serious tone than what I was originally expecting which honestly ended up being quite a pleasant surprise as this character has proven before he can lead a compelling tale if that’s the type of one Baron wants to tell at the moment.
The art by Jim Fern was pretty solid too, if maybe a bit stiff at times or that could just be in contrast to the incredible cover art by Paul Pope. I’m gonna be back for issue two to see exactly where this one goes. I’m quite curious to see if the elements of the 80’s Badger come into play and how they approach some of the more offbeat characters and settings from the original series. I’m also curious about this Badger/Putin fight rumored to happen soon. Either way it’s comforting to see a familiar face back on the shelves in 2016 with a solid debut I felt a bit like it was 1986 all over again…
First let it be known, I’m not a dedicated reader of the latest Bat Girl series, but I’ve obviously read “The Killing Joke”, arguably the greatest Batman story ever. In that classic graphic novel The Joker became one of the most frightening villains in all of comic book history. We saw a Joker that was far more dangerous, insane and sick than anything we ever witnessed before and this all involved what he did to Barbara Gordon (Bat Girl). The Joker kidnaps her, shoots her, strips her naked and then photographs her for her father to later see. This was a chilling sequence in the original comic book, and it left you wondering just what else the Joker may have done to her that was not shown but rather implied by a few of the panels.
Flash forward to present time and we have a newer Bat Girl series, with a lighter tone and delivering a positive message of empowerment to women. Then along comes this very different feeling variant cover by Raphael Albuquerque….
It was meant as a throwback cover to The Killing Joke and has caused loads of controversy. DC has received threats of violence and harassment for the image. People have deemed the cover as too inappropriate because of it’s clearly dark imagery a frightened, crying and bleeding Bat Girl with the Joker’s arm wrapped around her, gun in hand. It’s a variant cover so it really doesn’t need to have anything to do with the story inside the comic and most often these covers are meant for die hard collectors. I’m thinking a few things as I view it, first it’s an incredibly creepy cover, mostly if you know exactly what happened to Barbara Gordon back in The Killing Joke. Second it’s clearly a awesome piece of artwork portraying an excellent clearly insane Clown Prince of Crime. Third it’s maybe one of the most powerful comic book covers I’ve seen in years, it clearly strikes a nerve and leaves you with a feeling of utter dread.
I don’t think the cover is so offensive that it should be cancelled, but it may be tonally wrong for the series at the current moment in time. People in an uproar however also need to realize that this is fiction, not every story is going to an uplifting experience, some of the best stories do at times involve tragedy, in fact that’s what makes The Killing Joke so powerful in the first place. I agree, this cover may just be too disturbing for the current Bat Girl series, it does show a Bat Girl in a state of pure fright, some may view it as a women portrayed as weak, it brings back some those bad vibes of the Alan Moore tale but I also can say as a fan of The Killing Joke, if this was the cover to an actual Bat Girl story that was related to 1988 classic, DC would’ve have me picking up Bat Girl on a regular basis for the first time in my life…