Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Comic shop comics: October 30
I really enjoy Golden Age superheroes, ones that I've heard of but never really read before especially, because of how much imaginative blank space they conjure. And The Fox is about as Golden Age as they come; he's even one of those character's whose costume doesn't match his name at all (One might expect a character named The Fox to have something vaguely fox-like about his costume, right? Or, at the very least, to wear red or orange instead black? But then, Golden Age Green Lantern wore more purple and red than green, and Golden Age Batman wore blue and gray instead of brown and/or black, so there you go—perfect Golden Age character. His logo, by the way, which looks like Capitol Building upside down? That's apparently a fox head. I spent a lot of time looking closely at Fox costumes last week, for the purposes of a dumb joke for my blog).
And I like Mark Waid's writing a lot. I mean, I like superhero comics, and liking superhero comics and liking Mark Waid go pretty much hand in hand, right? Not everything he writes is great, of course, but I think he's one of the better super-comics writers we have, and his Daredevil is currently one of the best examples of the genre on the stands.
And I also really like the work of Dean Haspiel, who is a great superhero artist, although one doesn't get to see a lot of his superhero work (Certainly not as much as I'd like). Individually, they don't seem like the sort of creative team one would find on an Archie-published comic. And together? I don't know; this whole thing seems like a dream, and one I didn't want to sleep on.
So here's The Fox, photojournalist Paul Patton Jr., son of the original, Golden Age Fox, Paul Patton Sr. He Foxes in order to help his career, as super-people in costumes tend to attract stories to them, and now finds himself in a position where he can't seem to turn that particular faucet off. He's become a "Freak Magnet," which is also, incidentally, the title of this story (And I guess this is just a miniseries, of five issues in length, but boy I hope its indicative of what Archie's Red Circle considers a good creative team going forward).
In this issue he battles Madame Satan, who reminds me an awful lot of a Richard Sala character. She's attractive lady (something Sala excels at drawing) from the neck down, and scary, skeletal, Halloween mask (the other thing Sala excels at drawing) from the neck up. He also fights some thugs and talks to his wife about personal drama. There's a head nod to Watchmen that I didn't really understand (unless it's just a visual wink...?), and a pretty good gag at Man of Steel's expense.
The overall tone is light and fun, and Haspiel's artwork is every bit the treat one might expect it to be. He's great at drawing people throwing and taking punches, and his Fox is wonderful; the costume streamlining the character to almost pure figure and form, a set of lines with little extraneous detail to distract from his existence as a human body in action (The only features on his mask are his big huge Spider-Man eyes, and his ears, which, like some of the better depictions of DC's Wildcat's, flop around).
There's a two-page prose piece from Haspiel at the back, explaining how the project came to be, and how they created the comic. It sounds like a variation on the Marvel method; Haspiel doesn't just draw it, he plotted and drew the issue, and then Waid dialogued it. There's also a six-page back-up story by Haspiel.
I'd definitely recommend the book to anyone who likes light-hearted, fun, old-school superhero comics with fine, no-frills artwork. Certainly if you like Waid and Chris Samnee's Daredevil, or the FF comic by Matt Fraction and the Allred Army, this is a comic you should dig.
At 24 story pages for $2.99—with a wrap-around cover, and no ads save house ads appearing between the two stories and at the end of the book, rather than interrupting the narratives—this is pretty much a perfect package for reading in the serially published format, too. Although part of me does sorta wish I would have waited for the trade, if only because that might collect all the variants.
When I got there at 6-ish tonight, my shop had the two Haspiel covers (I got the one above) and the Fiona Staples variant, but not the Darwyn Cooke Variant, and Cooke's features a lovely image of the fox running with a skulk of actual foxes through the woods, lovely birch trees in the background.
For example, this issue, with its posing of our heroes like romance novel stars over a hot pink background, opens with a full-page splash of one of the members of the robot royalty yelling a funny but savage insult at her troops. It ends with a dramatic cliffhanger in which one of my favorite characters who isn't Lying Cat seems like he's about to die (One problem with a book like this? When all of the characters are so cool, you can't bear to see any of them die, which can make it a little stressful), a page that simultaneously includes a revelation that makes what has seemed like a kind of maybe too-precious, cliched-ish story device from the last few issues to have a perfectly reasonable, sci fi/fantasy explanation.
In between, there are board games, arguments, a funny (off-panel) sex scene and good God, sooooo much great art of sexy people and interesting looking aliens moving as if animated through artist Fiona Staples' clean, cool space-worlds.
There's also a character in one scene that is basically a bipedal fox.
*I'm still not sure if I want to read Sandman Overture in singles or trade. The Sandman is one of the few comics I have in both formats. I started reading it late—with Sandman Special #1—and so read single issues going forward, trades of the older stuff, and back issues whenever I could find them. Eventually, I ended up with the whole series in trade, and most of it single issues. And given how long it's been since a Sandman comic was published, surely I can wait another six months or so for a trade of the next one, right? But what if everyone's talking about it around the water cooler all week; won't I feel left out...?