,Do you want to hear an older Joe (a.k.a. the Shield), tell a story in a bar to a space monkey about a time he had to team up with other superheroes to save the world? YOU SO DO!
SILVER FOX GLORY
Have you read a silver age comic? Did you like it? If you answer YES to either of those questions – awesome! If you answer NO to either of those questions – bear with me! Stick around! I’ve got the comic that just might change your mind and it is called The Fox #5. Even better, you don’t need to have read the previous four issues in order to understand what’s going on from the friendly catch up page, but the context is certainly nice.
The reader dives into The Fox #5 at Pep’s Bar (in the town of Red Circle), and the Shield is recounting a tale of days past to Dusty. Dusty is a talking monkey from outer space, in case you want to keep score at home. The story he tells is nearly seventy years in the past, right smack in the middle of the Second World War and he has come face to face with his contemporaries from enemy lands: Hachiman (of Japanese origin), and Master Race (not so subtley German). At the height of the Second World War it goes without saying that these three men, super powered or otherwise, do NOT get along. However, they all find themselves suspended in the magic of the Druid who’s just arrived from the crystal kingdom of the last storyline.
Luckily for the Shield, Hachiman and Master Race THE FOX has also been blasted into the past and he knows exactly what they are up against. It is only by preaching understanding, acceptance (and some psionics, admittedly), that the now four heroes are able to put their differences aside and work together creating the gigantic hero UNITY in order to defeat the Druid.
J.M. DeMatteis has written The Fox #5 very much like a silver age comic with lots of narration and dialogue – there are so many words on the page! In many cases I have a problem with telling rather than showing in comic books, but Joe’s narration is crafted with such reverence for the events taking place (with occasional comic interjections from Dusty the space monkey), that the adventure unfolds across the page in a most pleasing way. DeMatteis nails the wistful tone of a man recounting his finest hour and the little twist at the end where the reader gets to see the Shield, Hachiman, Master Race and the Fox raise a toast and share a drink is nothing short of lovely.
The scale of the story told in The Fox #5 is cosmic, but by playing the beginning and ending so close to the chest and having a character present (Paul Patton Jr., in this case), who can look at the state of affairs through the 20/20 lens of history keep the emotional core reading as honest and character driven.
GREAT ART TEAM
Dean Haspiel and Allen Passalaqua definitely know what type of story is unfolding across the pages of The Fox #5 and their respective talents only add to the poignancy and grandeur of DeMatteis’ adventure tale. In the flashback retelling of the Druid’s defeat the characters are designed very much in the style of silver age heroes. Even though the Fox retains his contemporary costume he never stands out as being something foreign dropped into a prepackaged world.
Haspiel has an eye for landscapes which give his scenery and place settings a tone that feeds the underlying emotion of the scene. In The Fox #5 we see everything from a cramped cavern filled to the brim with bigotry that three of the four heroes are quickly forced to relinquish and when they do just that they are freed to the vastness of outer space with literally the universe in front of them.
Bright colours don the line art with the Druid in a bright purple of early Marvel villains – his magic that X-Men shade of pink. When the story goes cosmic the characters pop against a mostly black backdrop; Unity himself stands out brilliantly in his white/blue merger of the Shield/Hachiman/Master Race/the Fox’s costumes.
What else is there to say? The art’s great!
CHECK OUT THIS FOX
The Fox #5 should be read by you. And your friends. And children. It’s accessible to a wide readership, teaches a good lesson and is a fantastic story! The only gripe I have is that it would have been nice to see a lady hero join in the antics.