Archie Comics are throwing their hat back into the superhero ring with a relaunch of their Red Circle line now known as Dark Circle Comics. Their first salvo is The Fox, a Batman-esque character from writer/artist Dean Haspiel and digital comics godfather Mark Waid. But will this be a gamble which pays off, or will this be a book in need of culling?
Publisher: Archie Comcs/Dark Circle Comics
Writer: Dean Haspiel, Mark Waid
Artists: Dean Haspiel, John Workman, Allen Passalaqua
Price: £2.49/$2.99 from ComiXology
Paul Patton Jr is a talented photographer living in Impact City with his wife and son. However, Paul is also the Fox, the city’s premier hero. When a photography job sends him to a ghost town where he thwarts the plans of his nemesis Mr Smile, The Fox finds himself to be a freak magnet as a bounty is placed on his head, with every supervillain in town wanting to lay claim to it. If that wasn’t bad enough, as he’s trying to get out of the superhero game his son, Shinju, is trying to get into it as the Ghost Fox, who the villains are all mistaking for their target.
Resurrecting this 1940s character for a modern audience, Haspiel and Waid have constructed a book with a tight script which contains plenty of humour and charm to keep the reader invested. Waid’s signature wit is on show here, giving the book a very similar vibe to the writer’s current Daredevil run, but with enough distinctiveness to ensure the book isn’t mistaken as a rip off. In fact, Waid appears to enjoy his work here as he plays with the characters in ways he might not be able to at either DC or Marvel, such as dealing with issues of age as a superhero and the idea of a legacy things the big 2 have been hesitant to focus on of late. (Something which he also looks at with his Thrillbent series Insufferable – Ed)
Meanwhile, Dean Haspiel’s art, while a bit erratic at the beginning of the first issue, is certainly a great match for the fun tone which the story gives off. His lines in conjunction with Passalaqua’s sharp colours impress with a style reminiscent of Michael Allred or Darwyn Cooke – which is never a bad thing in our eyes!
Of course, the Fox isn’t without its problems and, while they are not constant, they are a little jarring when they occur. There’s a lot of assumed knowledge in this series, with readers having been expected to read previous series The Fox: Freakmagnet for this to truly make sense. Then in issue #3, the constant cutting between the two Fox’s does make the story harder to follow, disturbing is flow. But these are relatively minor concerns which don’t take away from the book’s overall sense of fun and enjoyment.