So a few weeks back, Johanna wrote a bit about the forthcoming return of the Badger, a character whose prime period was in the 1980s when it was initially published by Capital and then continued by First Comics.
The point of her post was…well, it’s right there in the title: “You Are Not Owed Pre-Orders Because You’ve Been Around Before.” And that’s true, unfortunately. I’d love to order tons of a new Badger series. I enjoyed the original series, picked up all the revivals (which were of…uneven quality, shall we say), and this new series looks like it should be okay, based on the preview that was presented in Comic Shop News a while back. But, frankly, I can’t order a lot, because I don’t know if it’s going to sell that well.
That said, I did order the new Badger series. I ordered enough to have copies on the shelf. Already that probably puts me ahead of a lot of shops that ordered it for their pull lists only, if they ordered it at all. I like the Badger well enough, and have enough fond memories of the comics, to order just a little bit with my heart over my head. I’m reminded a bit of when IDW brought back Grimjack, another character that had been off the stands for quite some time. I loved that old Grimjack comic, but realized that the audience that had followed it back then may no longer still participating in the direct market. I ordered reasonable-if-lowish numbers on that series, and it sold at about what I expected…partially to old fans, but some to new readers, too, and it probably helped that they didn’t pick up where they left off. Instead, they went with a very back-to-basics, no-complicated-backstory Grimjack, which was great for both new readers and longtime fans.
It is almost inherent to the nature of the Badger comics that there is no complicated backstory that one needs to know before jumping into a new adventure with the character. That’s part of its appeal, that elements come and go as needed with minimal explanation. Which brings me to another point…Johanna commented that the Wikipedia description of the character made it sound like a string of clichés, and to someone unfamiliar with the Badger, like presumably a good chunk of folks in today’s comics market, that surely doesn’t do him any favors. A dry description doesn’t accurately represent the actual tone of the book, as I tried to explain in Johanna’s comments. There was an overwhelming sense of…well, just plain weirdness, an off-kilter sense of humor at work in the comic that I could only describe in comparison to writer Mike Baron’s other major series, Nexus. It was wacky when it wanted to be, dead serious when it needed to be, with quirky dialogue and clear storytelling. It was more than the sum of the parts listed in that Wiki entry.
Part of the problem in later Badger revivals (and, in fact, later issues of the original run itself) is that something of that tone was lost, and attempts to recapture it never really quite succeeded, in my opinion. I mean, some of the latter-day Badger comics weren’t bad, but there was a you-can’t-go-home-again thing goin’ on, too.
Now, in that Comic Shop News preview I mentioned, the interview with Baron makes it sound like he’s really up and ready to go with new Badger comics, and it’s very possible it’ll be a return to form for that character. I certainly do hope so. As such, I ordered on this forthcoming Badger series as I did on that IDW Grimjack, suspecting the majority of sales will be to folks who remember Badger from before, with a few sales from new readers giving it a try. It does help that there have been Badger series within relatively recent memory, so it’s not coming to the comic racks completely cold, but, like Johanna noted, it’s still just one title among hundreds of monthly titles.
At the very least, I’d like it to do well for entirely selfish reasons: I want more Badger comics. Especially if they’re good. And I’m hoping this one is.
In other news: the latest Trouble with Comics Question of the Week is up, and it’s regarding our favorite use of sports in comics. Why not click on that link and see what my response was?