Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review - The Fox: Freak Magnet


"What I long for is a simple life. That's my problem."

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes with varying degrees of powers and abilities. Some people don't need powers to be a hero; they just capitalize on their talents. For Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark, it was sheer wealth and ingenuity. For Paul Patton, Jr., it's a Fox costume. In The Fox: Freak Magnet from Archie Comics, The Fox will quickly realize that being the center of attention isn't all it's cracked up to be.

The script is written by Mark Waid (with Dean Haspiel on "A Picture Lasts Forever" and J.M. DeMatteis on "Freak Magnet Part 5" and "The Face of Hate"), illustrated by Haspiel (with Mike Cavallaro assisting on "The Face of Hate"), inks by Terry Austin in "The Face of Hate," letters by John Workman and colors by Allen Passalaqua, Steve Downer and Andrew Covalt.

The Fox is a superhero hero without the super who's been saving the day since the 1940s. Paul Patton, Jr., is a photo-journalist who can never seem to get be at the right place at the right time for the photo. This, of course, prompts him to think it's a good idea to don The Fox costume and have the story come to him. His latest adventures have him and his wife Mae moving back to Impact City in an attempt to reconnect with his daughter Kelly. His first assignment is with Ms. Lucy Fur who turns out to be a lot more than he bargained for. From there, he's summoned by the Queen of Diamonds and crosses path with other Red Circle characters like Inferno and The Marvel.

The Fox is characterized as vibrant and exciting, thanks to Waid's firm grasp of the character. He's genuinely trying to do the right thing and couldn't seem to catch a break before donning the costume. Now, trouble seems drawn to him (or, as he puts it, he's a Freak Magnet) and life is a heady mix of exciting and challenging for him. The character is a fantastic throwback to the past and Waid doesn't let more modern themes get in the way of the character fighting all manner of freakiness. The stories themselves feel extremely weird in a positive way, much like The Tick and the opponents he fought. The Fox is a lot more intelligent than The Tick though and Waid allows The Fox to rely on more than just brute strength to get through tough situations.

Artistically, The Fox: Freak Magnet feels like it comes from a different time of comics. In a way it does, as the characters have been around for quite some time, but Haspiel's work is gorgeous. All the characters are illustrated in very well-defined lines that has them cutting their way through some pretty insane backdrops. What's more is that since the characters come from a different era, there's definitely more of a variety of body types, ranging from The Fox himself to tentacled beasts, all of whom Haspiel handles deftly. Every panel is chock full of action and the book must have been a beast to illustrated, but Haspiel pays very close attention to detail and ensures that nothing is lost on the reader's eye. There's a lot take in on the book and Haspiel (in addition to the other artists) do their best to deliver a cohesive package.

The Fox: Freak Magnet is a pretty zany but adventurous story that follows along with a man who can't seem to stop encountering the weird and wacky. It's a series of stories that are so outlandish that you can't help but scratch your head and wonder what's going on. Waid's writing makes such a statement a compliment, as The Fox is a character who you really want to pull for and even though he's in one crazy situation after the next, you enjoy following his exploits. Haspiel has been Eisner and Ignatz nominated, but he actually won an Emmy for his design work in Bored to Death and his talents are on full display in The Fox: Freak Magnet. The collection of stories is definitely a little on the odd side, but considering the title has "freak" in it that's meant the most sincerest way possible.

The Fox: Freak Magnet is in stores now.

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