Simon Pytheas was a pest control guy working with the now-defunct United States Information Agency. Not sure what brought an exterminator to Sudan in the service of the US government, and we definitely don't know what led to him wandering the desert alone. I feel like some big things have to go wrong for a Chicago exterminator to be lost alone in the Nubian desert, but he was. He probably wondered how that particular day could get worse...and he was quickly answered when he fell in a hole.
Roach the Question
It wasn't just any hole - it was an Egyptian tomb...in Sudan... and he was trapped down there in the dark for a month, and he was surrounded by roaches. Which he exterminated. With his face.
He describes it as "an endless parade of roaches" straight into his mouth and that he couldn't help himself. He could feel himself changing...into...a guy who eats roach parades.
Eventually, after eating way too many of them, the roaches presented him with a scepter. One, of course, shaped like a roach. I have a lot of questions, none of them are answered, but...he ate the roaches...why did the roaches give him something that made him, essentially, the pied piper of roaches? Was it a respect thing? Was it that he ate so many he was part roach or something?
Regardless, calling together a wave that apparently left him wearing nothing but some shredded jorts and a pair of sneakers, the exterminator was reborn into the Roach Wrangler.
So, given a new lease on life and control over a famously un-killable army of pests that number, according to one website, 999 billion, the Roach Wrangler decides...to help out a condo developer.
We're not going to go into the main hero here, the Badger, but he was, sadly, not an actual badger. The short version is that he is a Vietnam Vet with Disassociative Identity Disorder after childhood trauma and had seven personalities, one of which being the Badger, a crime fighter who brought, quote, bloody justice to jaywalkers and disaffected teens at fast food places. He has a wizard roommate and oh yeah, can talk to animals. That is, once again, the short version. There is a certain type of comics that seemed to be popular in the 80s and 90s that just tried to be off-the-wall and zany and honestly, they’re just exhausting.
Enc-roaching on their space
Anyway, the Badger gets a call from some friends who are being forced out of their apartments, so the land developer can make some new condominiums. They're being...encouraged to leave by the swarms of roaches that are coating their walls nightly.
By the way, in the city of Chicago if you have a cockroach infestation it's actually the responsibility of the building owner to maintain a pest-free environment so Elmo Otis, the landlord, is actually just digging himself into a more expensive hole by hiring the Roach Wrangler to intimidate his tenants.
And yeah, that's what he did. I don't know how the two found each other, but that's what the Roach Wrangler is up to - low-level intimidation jobs from condo developers. But his ambitions are about to get a whole lot bigger.
When the badger shows up and wrecks his home with an army of rats he commands because he can talk to animals - once again, we're not going to go into it - the Roach Wrangler decides he's going to bring the fight to the Badger's hometown in Wisconsin...and he's summoning every roach in Chicago to do so. He's going to rule by roach.
The Badger gets tipped off to the army of roaches approaching the state line and his wizard roommate, who's apparently a financial wizard, buys and mobilizes a fleet of steam rollers. The Badger does his part and breaks a bunch of elephants out of zoos all over Wisconsin, and the fight is on.
There are comics that take themselves very seriously. The battle between the Roach Wrangler with a billion roaches and a deranged Dr. Doolittle with a Wizard BFF...not so much. Regardless, the battle was grisly, but it ends with every roach flattened and ground into a fine paste, the wizard selling the roach remains as fertilizer at $1600 a ton, and the Roach Wrangler...
...as the hero of Chicago. They didn't care that he was going to use the roaches to take over a small town in Wisconsin. The denizens of Chicago only cared that there were no more roaches in the Windy City. The Roach Wrangler was hailed as a pied piper - but...the good kind...with no child murder. Instead of using this great PR to open a pest exterminator franchise or something, he only saw his revenge, and went after Elmo Otis. The Roach Wrangler was defeated one final time by the Badger and escaped with his scepter.
Unfortunately, Simon ends up identifying more with the roaches he controls...and sometimes ate...than with humans and the next time he appears, it isn't for revenge, but so the roaches could take back rightful control of the surface world. Badger drops a statue on him, and he's never heard from again.
The lesson here, of course, is that it's ok to eat roaches, especially to survive - I mean, they're high in protein and let's say antioxidants...but when a swarm of roaches offer you a culturally confusing Egyptian relic in the Nubian desert...maybe pass.
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