The Complete Badger vol. 4 TPB – Mike Baron

3 out of 5

The experience of reading the original Badger run is like a print version of trolling: writer Mike Baron brings out old plot beats like they’re going to amount to something, only to essentially reset for the next issue.

The issues collected in volume four are mostly like-minded in their silliness, at least, with Baron noting in the trade’s summary that he was going for a weekly standalone adventure feel, and I’d say – as skewed through Norbert’s oddness – he succeeds.  There’s an added bump to the superhero satire as well, with Badger fully merchandised throughout: Badger mugs, a Badger car.  It amounts to some laugh-out-loud, low stakes hijinks involving truffles and insane salesmen.  The trolling comes via Ham and Betty’s sidelined appearances; they really have nothing to do save being hanger-ons.

Toward the end of the trade, the strip’s potential to dig deeper slowly rears its head, as Badger squares off against a foe with an actual serious past, and then the final collected issue finally takes some steps toward prior plots, with a vicious IBOB assassin on the hunt.

The art is a little uneven via the different inkers, but is again brightly reproduced by IDW.  They also included the back-ups from the original issues – Tales from Clonezone.  These are amusing, but without ties to the Badger, would have been cool to see the space used for another issue.