Boy’s Life Meets Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind In Black Badge #1

by Brendan M. Allen

Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins, the Eisner Award-nominated team behind Grass Kings, reunite for a new ongoing series about a top-secret, elite branch of boy scouts tasked by the government to take on covert missions.
Among their organization, the Black Badges are the elite; the best of the best. They are feared even by the other badges. The missions they take are dangerous, and they will only get worse as their leader’s attention is split between their mission and tracking down a lost team member. A member who disappeared years ago, presumed dead.
A haunting look at foreign policy, culture wars and isolationism through the lens of kids who know they must fix the world that adults have broken.

In the opening pages of Black Badge #1, we meet a small troop of Scouts as they tag along on an American high school trip to Seoul. It doesn’t take long for the four kids to get “lost,” wander into the DPRK, and potentially change the course of a certain unitary one-party socialist republic.

One of the things Matt Kindt delivers in spades is natural exposition. We get acquainted with the kids not by heavy-handed commentary, but rather through the half-cocked taunts of the trip bully. Kindt really seems to get that weird stage kids find themselves in when they aren’t quite children, but also can’t be taken seriously as adults.  All that weird adolescent logic and antagonistic banter plays and moves the story along at a nice little clip.
The Jenkins roll back out that brilliant artistic style. Tyler Jenkins nails the awkwardness of puberty with his linework. One of my pet peeves is when kids are drawn like little adults. That’s not right. They’re not perfectly proportioned mini grown folk. These kids are gawky, skinny, fat, long and short in weird places. Yes! Thank you! There’s a lot more detail in these faces than we saw in Grass Kings, but I think much of that is owing to Hilary Jenkins’ paint job. Gouache? I think it’s gouache. That’s a word, yeah?

Black Badge is a little bit Stand by Me, with some Goonies and 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank, mashed up with Boy’s Life and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. It’s all awkward and weird and awesome, but, you know, clandestine and dangerous.

Black Badge #1, published by Boom! Studios, released 08 August 2018. Written by Matt Kindt, art by Tyler Jenkins, color by Hilary Jenkins, letters by Jim Campbell, covers by Matt Kindt, Tyler Jenkins, Jeff Lemire, and John Paul Leon.

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