"The Fox from Red Circle/Archie Comics this week has one of my favorite covers so far, and that’s saying something considering there have been variant covers by Paul Pope, Fiona Staples, Darwyn Cooke to name a few, and the covers have always had such a crisp and clear design element that they are entirely distinctive on the shelf. This time we get a kind of lava monster which, in keeping with the Silver Age homage of the book, might remind you of the Human Torch, but it really takes me back to some of the earliest appearances of the Torch in Golden Age strips—so visually distinctive that they stay in your mind. But we open issue #3 with such a bizarre and mythological situation that it becomes a magnet for psychological interpretations of hero stories. Paul Patton, aka The Fox, is standing with and extra his own severed head in hand, uncertain what it means to him to find it on a pike outside a cave as he tries to save the Diamond King from his enchantment into a terrible being. Will his “sly, foxy brain” be enough for the denizens of this underworld journey. This is what Carl Jung and later Joseph Campbell called the “midnight journey”, where a hero passes through a kind of land of the dead facing terrors and overcoming versions of themselves. In essence, they have to reject what they don’t want to be in life before they can create a self they want to be. Here lots of beasties assault the Fox and he has to come up with tailor-made solutions to handle and reject each, all while abusing his “doll head” severed head in disgust by bouncing it around with him.
The Fox is facing “death’s slobbering oral cavity”, purple but memorable prose from Dean Haspiel and Mark Waid, and in essence, this is the issue we’ve been waiting for when the confusion and sleights of hand The Fox has faced in his transmogrifying adventure become pointed, with a direct goal and purpose he’s willing to pursue fully. At great personal risk. The pride of place in this issue is taken by Haspiel’s double-page spread that features a cut-away of the Fox’s journeys through different tunnels, and we see multiple versions of his gymnast-like antics through them. It reminds me of 8-bit video games, great illustrated books from fairy tales and mythology, and even paintings of hellish lands like those produced by Heironymous Bosch. But there are some surprise guests toward the end of the book you’ll have to read to believe. The Fox #3 is a solid and visually powerful installment in a well-planned miniseries, ramping up the pace and significance of the storyline while giving you room to pause on the striking imagery."