Black Badge #7

Matt Kindt, writer
Tyler Jenkins, illustrator
Hilary Jenkins, colors
Jim Campbell, letters

The issue begins with a short summary to catch new readers up on what this story is about. The Black Badge is an organization for children, like the Boys Scouts. It operates in a community with several Badge Organizations. The White Badge group is the group the main characters belong to.  Jimmy, the leader of the group, discovers a connection between the White Badges and the honor society that he interprets as violations. He works with other members of his group, The Black Badges, to infiltrate the White Badges at the upcoming competition call Jamboree.

The most interesting part of this story is the psychological perspective the writer takes to develop the story and teach us about the characters. All the characters are in the 4th-5th grade range. It’s Jimmy’s industrious approach and investigative efforts to locate connections between The White Badges and The Honor Society, that first intrigued me. Jimmy tells Kenny, Kenny confides with Willy, and they come up with a plan to address the problem at the Jamboree. Seeing young boys working together, with no adult supervision, is both interesting and concerning. Interesting because the boys show initiative and learn how to work together. Concerning because some of the boys are almost paranoid in their approach to solving problems; they sometimes sound like middle-aged men living a boy’s life.

Another interesting aspect of the story is the sardonic nature of the writer’s perspective of the Boy Scouts organization. Almost every small story seems to poke fun at that organization. For example, a fight breaks out at the Jamboree, Willy leads the charge in freeing Kenny and while he fights he shouts the different badges he’s attained: “Escape badge”, “dead lift badge”, “improvised weapons badge.” It was awesome in a nostalgic way, but tragic in an appearance way. The exchange promotes the reader to ask: Do the Boy Scouts teach anything more than combat skill and survival strategies? The truth behind that question doesn’t matter as much as the larger question having to do with the values we teach our boys and how we need to prepare them better for actual life situations.

Overall = 10/10

Final Impressions

This is a coming of age story with important implications on larger macro-level systems that teach boys that survival is about physical combat versus higher values like compassion or self-sacrifice. I highly recommend this story to young boys, parents, and fans of the coming-of-age genre of comic books.