REVIEW: The Fox #1

The Fox #1
Written by Dean Haspiel and Mark Waid
Art by Dean Haspiel
Published by Archie/Dark Circle Comics

After picking up a copy of The Black Hood recently, I immediately added the rest of Dark Circle’s line of books to my pull list. That book is dark and gritty with some amazingly flawed characters which I loved, and never having read The Fox before, I was expecting the same level of storytelling; what I found fell short of that. From the solicitation:

THE FOX is BACK! Emmy Award winning writer/artist Dean Haspiel (Billy Dogma,HBO’s Bored to Death) is once again united with Eisner award-winning writer Mark Waid (Daredevil, Thrillbent) for FOX HUNT: Part One “The Situation”: When a billionaire philanthropist prepares Paul Patton Jr’s home town for demolition, our hero is sent on assignment to photograph the event. But what strange force lurks in the shadows, and why will it take Paul’s alter-ego, THE FOX, to stop it? The answer is the beginning of a deadly FOX HUNT and you won’t believe what happens next! Don’t miss the debut issue from the critically-acclaimed team that brought you THE FOX: FREAK MAGNET, featuring FOUR all-new variant covers! With art from Dean Haspiel, David Mack, Thomas Pitilli, Ulises Farinas and Chris Samnee!

Of course, that’s not to say that The Fox #1 isn’t a good book. In fact, I found Paul Patton Jr.’s character pretty interesting as he also seems a deeply flawed person. As he makes his way through his childhood hometown, which is about to be demolished by the Smile Corporation, he spends a great deal of time reminiscing about how things used to be. This helps introduce the reader to some of the supporting cast, and leads Paul to confront his childhood sweetheart and villainess of the issue. In the process, we learn about Paul’s struggles with balancing his personal life with his life as a hero. Oddly enough, even though he claims to be retired, he wears his suit underneath his clothes.

It is Paul’s struggle that provided some of this issue’s most interesting moments and sadly why I feel this issue may have missed the mark in many respects. Paul is the original Fox’s son, and as a result has some obvious issues in filling his father’s shoes. The psychological implications of this alone are fascinating but barely explored, though I hope it becomes a part of the book going forward. Another aspect that was hinted at but barely touched upon was his relationship with his wife and son. From my reading, it seems as if Paul has put his hero life aside to keep them safe, but as is usually the case, the hero must make a choice. Will this affect the story going forward, or will it be how Mr. Smile finally gets to the Fox? We’ll find out as the series progresses I’m sure.

With all that said, The Fox #1 is actually a pretty fun book, and definitely much more lighthearted than The Black Hood was. This book is more of a throwback to the heroes of golden age comics who lead simpler lives and whose motivations to perform their duty were usually limited to avenging a wrongdoing or serving justice. The character designs and hero names are very much examples of that. I was a big fan of some of Waid’s character-focused books such as Irredeemable and I hope we get to see the same type of character development here as well.

To help the story along is Dean Haspiel’s artworking whose cartoony style gives the book that throwback feeling as well. Haspiel manages to give every panel in this book a very dynamic and smooth feel which really helps bring out the action. There are a couple of tender moments here as well, and he manages to really sell the emotion.

Overall, The Fox #1 is a good first issue though I wasn’t blown away as I expected. Haspiel and Waid do a fine job setting up all the main players in the series here and definitely bring up some interesting plot points that I hope are explored soon. While it may not have been my favorite book as of late, there’s a lot to like here, particularly if you appreciate the golden age of comics which this book clearly references throughout.

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