This is the situation. We have our memories. The world moves on. The structure of our memories, the locations, the sources of the sights and sounds, eventually become barely recognizable or disappear entirely. What does that do to us or for us? Does it set us free, or does the thought turn things toxic for us? Unusually for a Silver Age homage superhero comic, The Fox: Fox Hunt #1 poses these questions. Mark Waid and Dean Haspiel do this in an artful, poetic way, and the development you'll notice if you've been following The Fox at Dark Circle/Archie is that the exuberant psychedelic splash of the first series with all its affirmation of love and faith is now transitioning into a more rugged, feet on the asphalt approach. It's going to take a turn into a more dangerous psychedelic trip the likes of which you might associate with a Constantine or Batman storyline. It's no longer "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", as referred to and depicted in the first series of The Fox with amazing pastel hues, it's the descent into the abyss. Watery abysses, concrete abysses of the city, and into the shadowy abysses of the past that may have gone long unexplored.
One of the big themes that's set to tie Fox Hunt together is the generational impact of the past. What can we learn from our own pasts that we might not have really analyzed or considered before? What lies buried in our own memories that might help us? Or, perhaps harm us? Our reluctant hero Paul Patton Jr., the former journalist who sought out the life of a crimefighter only to discover that now "the story won't stop", is back as a father, a son, a man taking a reflective look back on the town where he grew up on the brink of its destruction. It's something he could learn from, but given his past ties into that of the "Original Fox" might also tie him further to a role as a hero that he distrusts and has been trying to move away from. There are some seriously poignant moments in issue #1 that's titled "The Situation" both gleaned from Paul's memory and in getting to know his son and seeing how he views his father. This issue is the set up for Paul's past life, a trip down memory lane, and a study on the longevity of curses and blessings. As with many hero stories, we learn it's the little things, and perhaps even caring too much, that might come back as a source of weakness later.
Fox Hunt #1 sets us up for a dark ride by the end of the issue as we begin to realize forces are gathering against the Fox despite his lack of intentional involvement in crimefighting. But one of the things that makes me confident that Fox Hunt is going to be as compelling, and most likely even more compelling, than the first Fox mini-series by Waid and Haspiel is the use of language. It's hard-nosed, punchy, bullet-proof, and part of an almost jazz-like structure of narrative boxes tumbling through the panels forming a distinctive rhythm to the movement of the story. We hear Patton's thoughts, his memories, his reactions, and they punctuate and harmonize with his movements in an interesting back and forth, giving the comic an energy in the tension between language and image that few comics, if any, utilize these days when it's becoming all too common for the speech and the images in a comic to essentially "say" the same thing.
As Patton reflects on whether it's ever possible to get your "innocence back" as someone from his past comments, he's bruised, battered, and already wrestling his past to the ground in Fox Hunt #1. He's the ultimate combination of noir detective, Marlowe-like beset by a world of troubles and the superhero with a target on his back for all the underworld he's managed to cross in his lengthening career. Will he ever find out who he really is or wants to be? Fox Hunt is going to force Paul Patton to answer his own questions before others answer those questions for him in ways he may not like. The Dark Circle goes darker in Fox Hunt, and it's going to show you a hero, and a man, under siege. His humor, his language, his versatility, are all going to be put to the test as the story, indeed, comes to him in very big ways. What starts as a trip down memory lane takes only moments to turn into a toxic punch-up, and that's only the beginning of what's in store for Paul Patton in Fox Hunt.
The Fox: "Fox Hunt" #1 arrives in shops from Dark Circle/Archie Comics this Wednesday, April 15th. You can check out Bleeding Cool's previous interview with Dean Haspiel about Fox Hunt here.
Hannah Means-Shannon is EIC at Bleeding Cool and @hannahmenzies on Twitter