The Complete Badger: Volume Two TPB (IDW edition) – Mike Baron

3 out of 5

Still great, just typical of Baron in the way it starts to wander.

Volume 1 of the collected Badger gets to impress by starting with ridiculousness and then slowly creeping into surprisingly grounded moments.  While the issues collected in volume 2 continue on the breakdown that Norbert experiences – offering us further info on the familial background which may have made him who he is – we should remember the nature of our writer, as soon enough someone yells at Sykes to become the Badger again (basically), and so he does, and then we’re on to further adventures.

…Which are absolutely amusing, but more about building up the cast of characters at this point.  Ham’s goals become a bit more clear, which pit him against his boss, Weterlackus, and Badger against a white supremacist nicknamed Hodag.  Who, in Baron-y genius, temporarily becomes a friend as well.  …And also a turtle.

The capable Bill Reinhold mans the pencils all the way through, maintaining consistency despite some changing hands on the inks.  The creative team switches to a monthly schedule at a point, which may account for why some sequences become harder to follow later in the trade: a long fight between our principles lurches between conversational barbs and from room to room in Ham’s castle without a real grounded representation of Why; some dialogue – even if we forgive the letterers for confusing placement – doesn’t seem to sync up or is rephrased a panel later for no clear reason.

None of this makes for an outright criticism; Baron is training us on how to read The Badger, and volume 2 is sort of the buckle down and deal with it set of issues: you either accept the dada-ist flow, trusting that eventually bits and pieces will collect and cohere, or you’ve been puzzled by this whole maybe-schizophrenic-hero shtick from the start, conflicted over the awesomely paced page-spanning action sequences (which Baron mentions being proud of in an extra afterword for the trade) and how they mash-up with Three Stooges gags.

So maybe not as tight of an experience as Volume 1’s issues, but a unique one nonetheless.