The Fox #1
written by Dean Haspiel and Mark Waid; art by Haspiel
The Fox first appeared as a character in 1940, so it takes a certain amount of guts to make your first story in his relaunch be about the need to let go of nostalgia for objects from one’s past. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good story, as I’d expect from two such talented and experienced creators. I just found the theme somewhat surprising.
(To be fair, Haspiel and Waid first brought back the character at the end of 2013 in a five-issue miniseries, although that was part of “Red Circle Comics”; Archie is now calling its superhero imprint “Dark Circle Comics”, perhaps to emphasize that they’re going grimmer.)
Paul Patton is a photojournalist who became a superhero to further his career; as a crimefighter, he’d be more likely to be on the scene of important news, he thought. His arch-enemy is Mr. Smile, who moonlights as CEO of a major tech company in a modern update to the big-business enemies of the past.
The issue is heavily narrated, which helps in understanding the character, his motivations, and his predicaments. He gets into several. We start with his tour of “the forgotten town of Beaver Kill”. It’s about to be flooded to create a city reservoir, and Paul’s been sent to document the deserted locale. He has to use the new smartphone created by Smile’s company for his pictures in a sell-out tie-in.
His son (which was a surprise to me) accompanies him and doesn’t appreciate his nostalgia for the old place, since Paul grew up there, in a convenient coincidence. The writing about his memories, though — “I spent years looking out that window, watching the world go by. Learning so much about people. The drugstore? My first chocolate shake, my first comic book, my first punch, and my first black eye.” — is quite evocative.
He’s blindsided by a speeding woman who turns out to be the daughter of the town tarot reader. She doesn’t want to give up on her memories, either, but she’s doing something about it by infesting the town with fungus to make the water toxic. I’m not sure why she needs to be topless, but perhaps that’s part of the more “adult” Dark Circle imprint.
My favorite part was in the speech the Fox gives when captured. (He’s the kind of hero who gets captured a lot.) He says
You know what my mom used to say? “Never cry over anything that can’t cry over you.”
…Get over the buildings, they’re just things, and things change, thank God. And when we need reminders of our innocence, we still have memories.
That’s not a bad attitude for a revamp, particularly one that wants to do some things differently. The reluctant hero, based on the last few pages of tease, is going to keep getting pulled into adventures, but he seems to have a good handle on what family means. He reminds me of the classic Animal Man revamp in that way.