A mini-series featuring the most recent reboot/reimagining of the hero known as "The Fox", one of many old Archie Comics characters that were created back when the company decided to dabble in superheroes who has since gone through more than one incarnation over the years. This iteration was brought to light and published by Dark Circle Comics (an imprint of Archie, formerly know as Red Circle) along with a few others.
This fifth incarnation of The Fox takes most, but not all, of its premises from a single past incarnation. Self-known as "The Freak Magnet", Paul Patton Jr. was once a mere photojournalist who, in a moment of daring, decided to take up his father's identity as "The Fox" and become a crimefighter to have a better means of getting stories. He couldn't find "the scoops" on his own, so he became The Fox to draw said scoops to him. Problem was that, before long, it worked too well, to the point where he couldn't get the "stories" and "scoops" and overall weirdness and danger to leave him alone.
Then he started a family of his own.
This particular story begins with Paul, along with his teenage son Shinji, visiting and taking pictures of a small and now abandoned town known as Beaver Kill on Paul's editor's orders. Paul can't help but reminisce about the town he grew up in, the same one that's about to be turned into a dam/reservoir for Impact City, albeit a much needed one, courtesy of Bright Industries.
Said stroll down memory lane doesn't last, however, before events lead him to swear to his wife, and less convincingly so, to himself, to give up being The Fox for good, a vow that, of course, doesn't last halfway through the second issue. On the other hand, Shinji, who openly knows his father's secret, has his admiration of his father's superheroic altruism turn into his own enlightenment as he decides to be like him and takes up the new identity of "The Ghost Fox", complete with a snow-white version of his dad's costume. And what bad timing to be any sort of Fox, as the CEO of the aforementioned Bright Industries, a benevolent man by day and a notorious crime boss by night named Mr. Smile, calls together the most dangerous of criminals and villains and promises a million dollars to the man or woman that can bring him The Fox's head. The Fox Hunt is on.
Tropes that this mini-series includes are:
- Anti-Hero: According to Shinji's own words. Though he'll still act selflessly, he proclaims that The Ghost Fox will strive to take on the jobs that his dad no longer wants to do. What that precisely means and whether he'll actually end up an Anti-Hero, however, remains to be seen.
- Badass Family: Paul's family. He himself is The Fox of course, a legacy he inherited from his father. He's more than competent and skilled in this role, especially for a mere "photojournalist". His wife was once known as The She-Fox and his daughter, Kelly, is a hero named Fly-Girl, who's also a part of a superhero team called the Crusaders. The events of this mini-series also sees his teenage son Shinji take up the moniker of Ghost Fox. Shinji is shown to be a capable martial artist thanks to his dad enrolling him in Karate classes when he was younger, and is all-around decent, bar trying to handle crooks and villains outside his weight and depth class.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Paul originally became The Fox to have a front row means to the latest stories and scoops. Before long, however, he found the stories and scoops wouldn't leave him alone and he began to see himself as cursed, though that is mainly due to his Chronic Hero Syndrome.
- Big Bad: Mr. Smile, CEO of Bright Industries by day and ruthless crime lord by night. He's got quite the bone to pick with The Fox for him constantly messing and thwarting his various schemes, and so hires a gaggle of dangerous criminals to bring in his head.
- Bystander Syndrome: After promising himself never to put on his Fox costume again, Paul tries to self-Invoke this trope when he and Shinji get caught up in a bank robbery at the start of issue 2, partly on the justification that the robber isn't too serious on seriously harming anyone which Paul picks up on via the robber's actions. However, when Shinji decides to take initiative where his father would not, things get out of hand, as the robber is a lot tougher than he looks, forcing Paul to go back on his word and become The Fox again. Of course, since he was still wearing the costume under his clothes, one can't help but wonder how honest he was being to himself when he made that promise in the first place, self-turmoil or no.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Despite his lamentation of being cursed to always deal with weird stuff, Paul is shown to suffer from this. He always wears his costume under his clothes, even after he swore to his wife and himself that he'd never put it on again and he tries to self-invoke Bystander Syndrome during a bank robbery.
- Dating Catwoman: Played With with regards The Fox and Dream Demon. The knew each other as kids, but by now, both are well into their adult years and have only recently met again, and the former already has a wife and kids of his own.
- Evil Sorceress: Or perhaps "misunderstood", at least from Dream Demon's point of view. She is noted by Paul to have had a hard life since the two parted ways in their childhoods, even if, granted, he was trying to distract her at the time.
- Evil Versus Evil: Since only the person who brings in The Fox's head will get Mr. Smile's promised million, this happening between the villains was inevitable. Case in point, the only reason Paul and Shinji got through the ordeal they were in was because the two villains that were curb-stomping them got distracted with each other and over which one was the real Fox they were after and ended up knocking each other out.
- First Love: Paul's was a childhood neighbor named Linda, the daughter of the neighborhood fortune-teller Madam Peggy. Said daughter grew up to be the villain known as Dream Demon, who came back to infest the area in poisonous mushrooms that would deter the town from being turned into a water reservoir, who attacked Paul and later tied up and unmasked The Fox before she realized who he was.
- For Want of a Nail: If it weren't for Dream Demon infecting Beaver Kill with poisonous mushrooms to prevent it from being torn down, before innocuously leaving a pattern of mushrooms in the face of The Fox, her first love, Mr. Smile wouldn't have seen it as the last straw, and wouldn't have had a direct reason to call out a bounty on The Fox's head, which in turn would have meant the ordeals of this mini-series wouldn't have came to pass.
- Godiva Hair: The Dream Demon wears nothing except a makeshift skirt. Her green hair is just long enough to cover her "naughty" bits.
- Hypocritical Humor: Upon seeing his son as The Ghost Fox, Paul wonders who could have given him such a stupid idea; he even questions the humor in his son's pun-filled witty banter.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Shinji, while lying face-down in a bank robbery situation. manages to kick off his shoe ahead of him with enough precision that it lands in front of the robber's gun, who's back was to him at the time, giving Shinji the time to change into costume.
- Insistent Terminology: The Mad Gadgeteer would prefer to be known simply as The Gadgeteer, due to the negative implications of the word "mad".
- Legacy Character: Paul Patton Jr. is this to his father Paul Patton Sr., the first Fox. As of the second issue, Jr.'s son Shinji has decided to honor the legacy and his father in his own way, by becoming the self-titled "Ghost Fox", something of which his dad does not approve of. Time will tell if The Ghost Fox persona sticks for Shinji. And if the end of the mini is any indication, it will. Albeit under strict supervision and approval from Paul until Paul deems Shinji sufficiently ready. And only after Shinji's dad-issued "no-heroing probation" has passed.
- Le Parkour: Paul and Shinji, both athletic individuals, tend to use these skills and similar to get around.
- Made of Iron: Paul goes through a lot of physical punishment throughout the first two issue alone, including getting swatted from out of one building and into another across the street. But aside from a black eye that heals and a bruise or two, he's shown never the worse for wear. Thankfully, his son seems to have inherited this trait. Nothing is made explicit about their costumes providing superhuman protection, either.
- Mood Whiplash: Happens in the second issue, mixed with a dose of Gorn. Shinji unveils himself as The Ghost Fox for the first time to stop a seemingly mundane robbery attempt. He succeeded, that is until the robber suddenly starts uttering 'Brontosaurus' like a Madness Mantra before literally tearing his own skin off while gauging out his eyes, revealing to be possessed by said "Brontosaurus", with the robber's entrails scattering everywhere. Shinji, who was holding him at the time, gets a large stain of blood splattered on his snow-white costume that remains there for the rest of the issue.
- Nerves of Steel: Shinji shows this after getting blood splattered on his costume's face thanks to the robber he was holding tearing himself apart. Not so much his dad at the time, who promptly throws up.
- Nonindicative Name: A giant, red, humanoid... whatever that was possessing a hapless bank robber calls himself Brontosaurus. The Ghost Fox and later The Mad Gadgeteer both calls him out on the rather nonsensical name.
- No-Respect Guy: Shinji sees his dad as this, noting that though his Fox persona gets a little respect, the man behind it gets none. Wondering if he himself could ever be as altruistic, this thinking is what leads Shinji to the decision of becoming like his father. It's also what drives the ""Well Done, Son" Guy" feelings when Paul disapproves of this decision for fear of Shinji's safety, leaving the latter feeling underestimated and disrespected.
- Palette Swap: Shinji's Ghost Fox costume is quite literally an inverted, snow-white version of his dad's black Fox costume. Exactly where or how he got it/made it is never explained, especially considering the relatively short time between the first and second issues when he decided to become a vigilante like his dad.
- Purple Is the New Black: The Fox's titular Fox costume, which is black done in a "so black, it's blue/purple" look, somewhat dependent on the lighting.
- Rogues Gallery: Mr. Smile brings together a gaggle of dangerous criminals with a promise of one million to whomever brings him The Fox's head, with said gaggle being set as this for The Fox.
- Take Me Instead: Upon noting that Brontosaurus is looking for him, Paul tries to protect The Ghost Fox/Shinji by demanding, as The Fox, to be taken instead. But as he was not in costume at the time, Paul gets swatted away, out the bank and into a shop across the street, for his trouble.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Dream Demon is successful in her endeavor to make Beaver Kill useless as a water shed. Shinji even admonishes his dad for letting her escape, though it's clear Paul wasn't in the mood, what with her being his childhood flame and all.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Happens with Paul due to the above-mentioned Mood Whiplash.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: After his epiphany, which began in the old Beaver Kill church, Shinji begins showing signs of this trope regarding his dad's superheroics. He dons a white version of his dad's costume, dubs himself "The Ghost Fox", and tries to take action against a bank robbery they're present at when Paul tries being purposefully passive. Worrying for Shinji's safety, Shinji is met with disdain and disapproval from Paul, a reaction that causes Shinji to kick his father away before running off.
Shinji: "Everything I am, you made me."
- In a bit of an inversion, it's noted that Paul himself feels he has failed and been essentially "betrayed" by Shinji upon first witnessing The Ghost Fox's debut, since by this time, he's long since felt being a vigilante wasn't a good thing to aspire to. In fact, in his utter shock, he wonders where Shinji could have gotten "such a stupid idea" in the first place.
Paul: "Then how do I unmake you?!"
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Dream Demon a.k.a. Linda Peggy, Paul's first childhood girlfriend, sees herself as this with regards to overrunning Beaver Kill with poisonous mushrooms that would turn the Watershed about to be built through the old town into a basin of tainted water as a means of protecting the town she and Paul grew up in.
- Weirdness Magnet: Self-identified as in-universe and affectionately referred to via the writers as a "Freak Magnet" for always finding himself in dangerous and freaky situations. The story indicates it has more to do with Paul's own Chronic Hero Syndrome than anything else. Paul considers this his curse, one that he doesn't want to affect or befall his loved ones.