Forget media like Blade Runner and Cyberpunk 2077, Fox and Hare #1 has a rebellious and futuristic sci-fi story that actually explores the “cyber” and “punk” of the genre with care. The long-anticipated series from Vault Comics has arrived and it delivers on its promise of a big cyberpunk story, told with heart and a noble motive of Asian reclamation.
Fox and Hare follows Aurora Yi, a hacker being targeted by the overbearing megacorp Synastry Designs, and her partnership with local mercenaries Fox and Hare. The gentle, somber moment that the story starts with may seem counterintuitive to the electric nature of cyberpunk. However, writer Jon Tsuei makes sure to imbue these softer moments throughout Fox and Hare #1, making it natural and impactful. Aurora also serves as the catalyst for the story, the comedic relief, and the representation of Keza and Kita’s tumultuous childhood all at once, making her future development all the more intriguing.
Paired with the gentler moments are artist Stacey Lee’s clean action sequences in typical movie fashion. Explosive sword and gunfights paired with literal explosions bring dynamic excitement. Also, Raul Angulo’s colors are vibrant, neon cyberpunk when they should be, with more muted dystopian dreariness when appropriate. The multi-colored lines of rain used in a lot of the city scenes look like the sky is glitching, another distinctive detail of Fox and Hare’s art.
Lettering from Jim Campbell with translucent whisper fonts, wavering bubble stems, and crisp onomatopoeia also gives Fox and Hare #1 a unique look. Cyberpunk comics and media can tend to either not include the latter to appear sleeker or include robotic-looking fonts to indicate “the future.” But the use of fonts almost similar to ones used in superhero comics makes it feel alive and new.
We can’t know how Fox and Hare was shaping up before the multiple COVID-19-related delays, but the final product that is Fox and Hare #1 seems like it was worth the wait. Take the excellent world-building that showcases pill-sized cybernetic enhancements and seamless glide shoes alongside familiar modern touchstones like night market street food vendors. Or how the characters use “lah” and “wah” in their speech, common Asian prefixes and suffixes used with different intonations to convey different meanings. It’s a really nice touch that shows the thought behind making these characters and this world authentic.
It’s part of co-creators Tsuei and Lee’s reclaiming of the cyberpunk genre under an East/South East Asian lens from the standard appropriation of it (similar to how Fox and Hare’s mission is to reclaim the city they love from Synastry Designs). Tsuei noted in Fox and Hare’s initial press release that they “had to reframe the themes of new technology (cyber) and rebellion (punk) through an Asian lens.” Vault Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief Adrian Wassel named the careful development of this exquisite depth as a reason for the series’ delay, supporting Tsuei and Lee’s mission. It was an excellent call considering the nuance of the Asian characters, language, culture, aesthetics, and more to create a fully fleshed out and realized story.
At times, Fox and Hare #1 falls prey to slower cyberpunk/dystopian beats necessary for setup. However, the main components of Fox and Hare #1 feel completely fresh and seem like they’re leading to some intriguing developments. Even the name Fox and Hare invites curiosity as to whether the series will use the moral from Aesop’s classic fable of the same name about ignorant curiosity. Ultimately, Fox and Hare #1 is a strong artistic and narrative start to a series with great promise for reclaiming the cyberpunk genre.
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