Mike Baron has written many comics including popular runs on The Punisher, Flash, Star Wars, and more, including Nexus which he co-created with artist Steve Rude. Now, he returns to another of his creations with The Badger from Devils Due/1First Comics. Westfield’s Roger Ash spoke with Baron to learn more about this upcoming series.
Westfield: For people who haven’t met him before, who is the Badger?
Mike Baron: The Badger is Norbert Sykes. He’s a young man who had a horrific childhood and because of that, he became a multiple personality. One of those personalities is the Badger, a costumed crime fighter who communicates with animals on a level most people can’t. Other personalities include Pierre, a mass murder; Emily, a little girl; Gastineau Grover Depaul, an inner-city black; and Max Swell, a gay architect. But most of the time, he’s the Badger. The core personality, Norbert Sykes, isn’t really very interesting and sometimes when Badger is walking around without his costume, people keep calling him Norbert, but it’s actually the Badger.
Westfield: The Badger’s been away for a while. Why did you decide to bring him back now?
Baron: I’ve been trying to bring him back the whole time. First has re-formed and Ken Levin who’s the guy behind First said “let’s bring back the Badger.”
Westfield: What can you tell us about this new miniseries?
Baron: We thought we’d take the opportunity to update his origin for a new generation, so he’s no longer a Vietnam veteran. He’s now a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. I’ve devoted the first issue as an origin story. It’s not a retelling because this is a story we’ve never told before. It’s about his first experience joining the army and how that affected him. He gets paired up with a dog and becomes a dog handler, which is right up his alley. But what happens to him in Afghanistan is horrific. Because of that, the first issue is very grim, but it’s compelling. If you want to be entertained, you will be. However, those people who are looking for the crazy stuff that Badger featured in many of his adventures, such as flying demons and magic and so forth, that’s coming in the second through fifth issues. Believe me, it’s going to take off into the ionosphere with Marx Brothers overtones. And it’s still a very serious story. In fact, it’s all things to all people.
Westfield: Will any of his supporting cast be returning?
Baron: Oh, yeah! We’re bringing back everybody. Dr Buick Riviera. Yak and Yeti play a prominent role in this first storyline. And, of course, Daisy and Mavis are back. And Ham. As far as recurring characters, they’re the only ones I can mention now for this series, but we have plans to bring back everybody from Senator Kasten to the Wombat.
Westfield: For new readers, who are some of these characters who’ll be playing a big part in the story?
Baron: Yak is a Tibetan holy man and a sorcerer. For people who don’t know, Ham is also a sorcerer. Who’s Ham? Ham, or Hamilton Thorndyke, is a millionaire for whom Badger works as a bodyguard, security expert, and general factotum. The reason Badger works with Ham is because Jeffrey Butler and I started to do a story about an obnoxious Druid wizard that everybody hated. His neighbors put him in a coma and hired some Vikings to drop him off the edge of the earth. That’s how he ended up in the New World. When I went to Capital [original publisher of Nexus and The Badger] and said, “we have this story about a druid wizard,” they laughed and said, “we don’t want any druid wizard. We want a costumed crime fighter.” I told Jeff and he said,” I’m not going to waste these twelve pages.” So we shoehorned him into the book and that’s how Ham and Badger got together. Although, since then I’ve gone over their first meeting. In fact, their first meeting is in the first issue.
Westfield: You’re working with Jim Fern on the new series. What can you say about your collaboration with him?
Baron: You’re going to be stunned at the artwork. It’s so crisp and dynamic and very realistic, as suits the story. We switch artists with the second book and the third book. The reason is there’s a sharp change in tone between the first and second book. The first book is grim, realistic stuff and Jim excels at that. The second book by Tony Akins starts to veer into cosmic slapstick. Then, Val Mayerik takes charge with the third, fourth, and fifth books and includes a lot of detailed martial arts sequences. Val and I have been working together for many years, we both practice, we both understand how to transmit the excitement of martial arts to the comic book page in a realistic and kinetic manner. It’s stunning work.
Westfield: After this miniseries is concluded, are there more Badger stories in the works?
Baron: I have quite a few, but we’re going to wait on sales. This market is so difficult right now that a small company like First can’t commit to a regular ongoing monthly title unless they’re sure it’s going to be in the black.
Westfield: Any closing comments?
Baron: We’ve got a lot of stuff in the works and we want to bring back some pretty great artists who have worked on it before, but that all depends on the success of this first series. I will say this; the bad guy’s Vladimir Putin.
I also want to mention that we’re debuting a new Nexus online in January. It is spectacular. The Dude’s [Steve Rude] already finished 35 pages. It’s going to be printed 11”x22”, full color, and mailed in a tube.
The Badger #1