When we last saw harried hero The Fox, he found himself thrust into the Shield’s supporting story, so it is only fitting that J.M. DeMatteis takes over main writing duties for this issue. As this installment begins, we see a now-elderly Shield sitting in a dive bar whose name, in a wonderful touch, references the character’s MLJ Comics origins. He is recounting the time during World War II that he was forced to team with Japan’s Hachi-Man and Germany’s Master Race and the Fox to fight the Druid — a cosmic giant whose notions of how to reboot mankind are a demented fusion of Ozymandias and Doctor Manhattan’s worst personality traits.
As the Fox attempts to make sense of what he going on, he remains as hapless as ever, musing to his new acquaintances that he is merely “an average idiot who always finds himself up to his neck in craziness he never asked for.” Regardless of his non-traditional approach to superheroics, he manages to rally his cohorts in order to defeat their common enemy. How? By forming a gestalt entity that shares their memories and emotions, natch.
Were he a lesser writer, DeMatteis’ “we must overlook our differences and team up to save the day” denouement would come off as cloying. But here the aww shucks sentimentality that concludes both the Freak Magnet and The Face of Hate storylines somehow feels perfectly suitable for these oddball underdogs…not to mention in line with the character’s wholesome MLJ/Archie roots.
Throughout the series, Haspiel has been at a career best. The streak continues here as he unleashes dreamlike splash pages and panels that overflow and crash into each other – subtly mirroring how the worlds of the main characters have survived. Although Haspiel’s work (almost certainly deliberately) evokes the illustrative flair of Fox predecessor Alex Toth at times, this is more than anything a showcase of his considerable talents.
So The Fox’s adventures are over for now, but thanks to a final page tease we know that he will return in Fox Hunt, which once again promises to reunite Haspiel and Mark Waid. For comics readers, this is great news indeed. The Fox is one Freak Magnet we’ll want to see much more of.
The Fox #5Writer: J.M. DeMatteisArtist: Dean Haspiel and (Colorist) Allen Passalaqua