The Fox struggles to capture a good balance in tone or pace.
The content of comic books got so dark for awhile in the mid-2000s that a book, any book, that had elements of fun became a refreshing change of pace. “It’s fun”, became reason enough to read a book. Flash-forward a few years later and comics have finally found their fun again, enough so that it isn’t reason enough for a book to be good anymore.
This is where we enter, The Fox. With art duties by Dean Haspiel and a story seemingly written somewhat haphazardly between Haspiel and Mark Waid, the best and worst thing that could be said about this book is that it is simply fun.
The art is gloriously evocative of the best of Saturday morning cartoons and it adds to the tone of the book. But the writing, as I’ve already alluded to, feels a little overblown. The basic gist of this issue is that The Fox makes his way through a cave, fighting spiders and fire monsters along the way. To fill the time between action set-pieces is a constant narration that swerves between the hero longing for his old boring life and random Temple of Doom references.
A lot of it is funny. Some of it adds to our understanding of the character. The rest of it would make even the most quipping of characters like Spider-Man fill their ears with web fluid to drown out the constant flow of banter.
The blabbermouth nature of the title character will fluctuate with each individual reader, depending on how funny they find the material to be. For me, it further complicates the balance between “fun” and wanting something more that this book struggles with.
Daredevil (which is written by Waid), is the perfect example of contemporary “fun” comics. Each issue moves at a brisk pace, but there’s enough genuine character moments and stakes to counterbalance the wackier aspects of the book.
The Fox focuses too much on the silly for the action sequences to hold any weight. But the overflow of exposition and narration slow down what could have simply been a fast-paced thrill-ride otherwise.
There are elements of a really solid book here, specifically starting with the look of the book. Ultimately though, there isn’t enough “there” there to elevate the book, and the fun simply isn’t allowed to be fun enough.
Dean Haspiel and Mark Waid (W), Dean Haspiel (A), Archie Comics, $2.99, January 8, 2013.