My exposure to the universe inhabited by the Red Circle characters was through Len Strazewski and Mike Parobeck’s “The Fly” when the characters were brought back to the new comics racks through the short-lived Impact Comics line. “The Fly” led me to William Messner-Loebs teaming with David Williams for “Jaguar” and eventually back to Mark Waid and Grant Miehm on “The Shield.” It’s only fitting then that the latest Red Circle character to hit the stands comes with Mark Waid’s name in tow, full Red Circle.
Everything a reader needs to know about the Fox — also known as Paul Patton, Jr., photojournalist for The Register in Impact City — is right here in twenty-four pages (eighteen in the lead and six in the backup) of action adventure. Waid adds snappy dialog to the bouncy, zany story from Haspiel as the Fox tries to beat back evil so he can just live a normal life. The Fox doesn’t bemoan his station, he’s doing the best he can, but like every reader certain to pick this first issue up, he can’t help but want a little more normal in his life. When that life consists of settling in to a new job in a new city, fighting feminine demons with chattering skull heads, and scrapping with sentient retail establishments, it’s hard not to think normal might be nice. That said, Haspiel and Waid really sell the bizarre and spin it into a fun story that stays upbeat despite all of the weirdness. That weirdness earns the title of this arc, “Freak Magnet,” and Haspiel carries the oddities into the backup tale.
That backup story fully written and drawn by Haspiel, with colors by Allen Passalaquia and letters by John Workman is a wild six-page adventure bursting with over-the-top color and bold sound effects, such as “SHAKE,” “RATTLE” and “ROOARRR.” Haspiel’s art is reminiscent of Mike Parobeck’s and Dusty Abell’s, giving the characters animated movements and distinct physiques while refraining from overly burdensome detail work. Haspiel’s style is open and inviting for Passalaquia’s colors in both tales, resulting in a comic that is innovative in its retro-chic appearance.
In the text at the back of the issue, Haspiel suggests to his readers that the Fox should sound like James Garner from “Rockford Files.” I really can’t argue with that logic and, knowing that, I re-read the issue to enjoy it just a bit more the second time around. “The Fox” #1 is a delightfully fun, throwback comic well-suited to find hands and eyes of both new and lapsed comic book readers. With a killing blow delivered by the Fox (and a thinly veiled poke to a recent summer blockbuster delivered right after) and use of the word, “hell,” this comic book is not quite all ages, but it’s a step in the right direction. Too many comic book readers bemoan the state of the industry today, looking for something light-hearted or fun, energetic or starring a likeable character. Those readers need to pick up “The Fox” #1, sit down and enjoy a fun superhero read about a guy out of his depth, but more than willing to fight the good fight. This is a nice companion piece to Waid’s work on “Daredevil,” but comes with less continuity.