Just before Archie Comics superhero imprint Red Circle Comics gets eclipsed by the grittier, jaw gnashing Dark Circle Comics (imagine lots of lightning and silhouettes), The Fox Vol.1: Freak Magnet is collected for your enjoyment.
Written and illustrated by Dean Haspiel with heavy scripting help from Mark Waid (Daredevil, Thrillbent).
A classic comics creative team J.M. DeMatteis along with Mike Cavallaro (pencils, color), Terry Austin (inks) and John Workman (letters) set WWII comics on it’s side with tie-in back up story “The Face of Hate,” a cornerstone of the whole volume.
If you remember comics being fun, bad guys getting punched, and if heroes leaping between dimensions gets you trotting, please check out this all-ages friendly The Fox.
Back in MY DAY, we took our comics by the issue and we liked it! Well, that’s what I said way back in October when issue #1 hit the stands.
These days with all the hustle and bustle and Instagram snaps it’s hard sometimes to focus on a story when you have to wait a whole month between chapters. Lots of stuff is going to trade for me lately.
And boy was I happy to come across this sly Fox, all bundled up nice!
When comic book stories can exist outside of the existing continuity and frankly B.S. (that we all love, mind you) a certain freedom occurs. I’m not talking about ‘the creators are free to do what they want’ kind of freedom — although there is certainly a value in that — I’m talking about the brain workload a reader needs to bring to the experience of reading a certain comic.
Many might cite this as an advantage that stretched into Hollywood this last weekend, as Guardians of the Galaxy proved that in a Yoda-esque fashion that “not knowing is knowing”.
The Fox isn’t a well known superhero.
Haspiel and Waid use their magical tools used to introduce us to the Red Circle world and The New Crusaders so you will fall in love with Paul Patton Jr. and his family. Paul Patton Jr. has taken his mantle from his dad, the original Fox.
Paul is also a family man and photo journalist with The Daily Globe.
That’s elements of Peter Parker, Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane are all rolled into one!
In “The Face of Hate” backup, we are introduced to The Shield – the star spangled hero that appeared fourteen months before a couple of artists came up with something called Captain America! The Shield is to Cap like A Band Called Death is to punk rock today.
When Paul kisses his wife Mae (aka She-Fox!) goodbye after moving back from Japan (see, some continuity to follow with the character but all wrapped up in one nice page!) he thinks he’ll have an easy day, but like all good comics he is changing into the Fox costume and taking on baddies in no time! It turns out a social media mastermind he interviews is really Madame Satan! We wouldn’t be surprised if Zuckerberg was actually a demon of some kind.
That’s just a small taste in chapter one of the previously mentioned dimension hopping, demon punching, double crossing villain action in the rest of the book, though it sets it up nicely with just enough modern touches to remind you this story is happening now.
The Shield story flashes back to WWII as the commentary turns to The Shield taking on the German baddy Master Race and Japanese Samurai warrior, Hachiman. Clever commentary on hate and race and how American comics were used as propaganda during that time is exacted in a way only possible in comics. The Shield gives the symbolic Hitler a good smack on the chin like good old Cap. But, can someone or something get these guys to fight a monster that is about to take over the world? Get Freak Magnet to find out!
Freak Magnet is a volume you can revisit, give to your Dad, give to your kids, or anyone for that matter. It is a wholly satisfying experience.
Haspiel masterfully lays out the page in a way that pays tribute to classic Fox artist Alex Toth, as he keeps the action and your eye moving around the page. Monsters and giant spiders and different realms are depicted unironically and aren’t overworked. If you have fun reading Archie, you’ll have fun here. And that’s sort of the point.
From interviews with Haspiel you can tell he has a real reverence for the character and the romance of comics and the comics page and he just had to get this book out there! Mark Waid does that special thing he does to make Daredevil seem like a real person with challenges to face, and sprinkles his dust all over this book, adding dialogue, including callbacks and overall making this already great material amazing.
Consider this part of your late summer reading because class is almost in session and you don’t want to be out-Foxed!