Oh great! Archie comics has a super hero franchise. I guess they got tired of all that romance fluff. What is it called? The Fox? Looks like a spin off of Spider-Man and Batman. Definitely a kids cartoon! What’s it about? A photographer with the secret identity of a crime fighter. Peter Parker thinks this is just screaming with originality….
I couldn’t have been more wrong with my assumptions about this series and I bite my tongue for underestimating the work of Mark Waid (writer of The Flash, Kingdom Come, Superman: Birthright). I seem to cling to every comic series he writes in.
The Fox is a golden age crime fighter who was produced under Blue Ribbon Comics. He has recently been resurrected by Archie Comics.
Where do we start on this crazy joy ride of a story? First we have Paul Patton Jr., who is a second generation hero, just trying to make a buck as a photojournalist. He couldn’t find a good story, so he donned the hero costume to make the story come to him. His choice of life has now made him a target for every crazy incident in the universe. But now he wants the simple life with his wife, Mae (who is also a crime fighter). As he kisses her goodbye, he goes off to work to interview Ms. Lucy Fur. She turns out to be a demon from Hell who wants to use her social media network to steal souls. Paul must put on his Fox costume and save himself from getting his soul stolen. After that he gets kidnapped by a mob boss named Mr. Smile, who was working for Lucy Fur. The goons he hires use him as a punching bag in a dirty warehouse. Paul must become The Fox to rescue himself and give those goons some sweet chin music.
As he is about to retire to home and a normal life when the Queen of Diamonds of a Crystal Planet materializes into thin air and recruits The Fox to save her husband from an evil sorcerer. Warping onto that planet, The Fox must save everyone by defeating the Druid and rescuing his old hero buddies who were enslaved. Once the giant battle with The Druid comes to the conclusion, Paul is ready to have dinner with his wife again. The Queen then graciously sends him back to his planet—in the year 1941.
The Fox now finds himself in the Arctic where we meet Captain Shield (The Captain America of the Archieverse), The Master Race (A German super soldier) and Hachiman (A Japanese warrior). They have all been summoned by their governments to investigate weird happenings in the Arctic. They all think their World War II enemies are involved. As it turns out, the Druid is not done with his evil ways. He sends manifestations of his psychic powers back in time to try to enslave the world.
In the final conclusion, The Fox, The Master Race, Hachiman, and Captain Shield unite to become a super manifestation of world unity—think Power Rangers. They discover a powerful lesson about empathy and not hating your enemies while ridding Earth of a powerful Alien menace.
What a ride! I was pleasantly surprised at the whole journey of simple man, Paul Patton Jr, and the freakish problems that wind up at his door. He is reluctant to be The Fox even though he is crafty in battle and a gifted crime fighter, but his destiny is always to be smack dab in the middle of a crisis.
The story flows rapidly, leaving no room for the reader to catch their breath, and it reminds me of the show, Doctor Who, in its consistent bombardment of science and characters. Things tend happen spontaneously and then get weaved together by a common thread. This definitely works to the advantage of The Fox and helps to make the stories more addictive.
The characters have that playful Archie innocence to them, where they are charming and endearing, but still very authentic. Paul and his wife Mae are a very sweet couple just trying to have the American life. When The Fox gets into great peril he starts making jokes. Odd jokes. The Fox jokes that the crystal planet world looks like Huckleberry Finn meets Apocalypse Now. He takes each weird adventure with a grain of humor.
What surprised me most is the stories take on a very redemptive and Biblical moral focus. The Fox prays to God in a hokey and humorous way when he is bested by the Druid. When The Fox faces the Druid on the Crystal Planet to save the Princesses’ husband, The Queen of Diamonds shows up to save the day. She then explains how the power and unity of the marriage between Paul and Mae is what gives her the power to defeat the Druid. In terms of the power struggle between The Master Race, Hachiman and The Shield, they admit that they hate each other because of the war, but when they unite into a super mech, they learn to see the world of their enemies and empathize.
Interestingly enough, after a little research, I discovered that Mark Waid has a Christian background!
The art style fits perfectly into the Archieverse, including brightly colored cartoon people with square jaws and dotted eyes. This style reminds me of the TV cartoon Freakazoid!. Though the art style is very appropriate for Archie, I would like to see some more realistic artists take a crack at The Fox.
There are no flaws in this story that made me cringe. In fact, it felt like I had stumbled upon this best-kept secret. My only beef is that the writer has more room to explore Paul’s character and his strive to be a family man. He whines about wanting to be a family man with the simple life, but when danger comes, he becomes the Fox persona too readily. I am not 100% convinced that he truly wants his boring old life.
Violence: Some limbs get punctured by spikes and blood is shed on some faces. Lots of fisticuffs.
Swearing: Very clean No Swearing. Fitting for the Archieverse.
What we have here is a fantastic story that rewards the true fan of weird science. It includes buckets of fun with its own universe and is playful in every way. If you like Doctor Who, campy heroes, Freakazoid! or you just want to see a great fantasy with godly values, I say check out The Fox: Freak Magnet.
+ Story feels whimsical like a Doctor Who episode + Spiritual and ethical messages + Characters are very entertaining
- Not totally convinced that Paul wants the normal life
The Bottom Line
What seems like Archie's rip off of Spider-Man is actually one of the most whimsical and fantasy driven graphic novels I have ever read.