Writer: Scott Goodall
Artist: John Stokes
Publisher: 2000 AD
Newly born into the world, Marney the Fox is soon orphaned when his mother is killed by a farmer, and his siblings taken. A cub alone in the wild, Marney must learn to survive the harsh wilderness.
Marney the Fox is… an oddity. It’s about a fox cub trying to survive in the wild, which sounds like something that’d be skewed towards a younger audience, but the constant danger and fear of death that Marney finds himself in seems sort of at odds with that. There’s never a moment for the fox cub to rest or get his bearings or have any kind of adventure that doesn’t have him struggling to fight for his life. One segment starts with Marney trying to make friends with some otter cubs but ends with him fighting their mother to the death and being drowned. Another bit ends with a little girl saving his life, but only after he’s been caught in a bear trap, viciously beaten, and having to try and run from a group of hunters with his tail still caught in the trap.
Not only does this seem sort of at odds with what would appear to be the obvious tone and audience for this comic, but it presents a strange pacing issue. I understand why, Marney the Fox ran in Buster from 1974 to 1976, a weekly publication, so there had to be something for Marney to do each week, and since the writer apparently thought danger was the only exciting thing, that’s what is presented in each chapter. But it gets sort of ridiculous when in the course of three segments, he’s caught in an explosion, barely escapes a burning house, and has to survive a flood. Marney takes more of a beating here than most superheroes. And not only is it a little ridiculous, it gets boring. It becomes predictable that Marney will always be in some sort of danger, there’s nothing to break the pacing up.
Adding to the boredom is some incredibly melodramatic narration and repetitive dialogue from Marney. There are only so many ways Marney can use “darkness and pain” in a sentence, and it’s exhausted fairly quickly.
The art is quite good, managing to handle action, more detailed slower moments, and the spectacle of an explosion or a flood. It creates a cohesive look that is good across the board.
I keep coming back to the question of who exactly this is for. Kids might be a little overwhelmed by the wordy dialogue and constant close to death danger, and anyone else will likely be bored by the same wordy dialogue and one-note structure. I suppose the answer then is people who read the old Buster publications and have some nostalgia for Marney the Fox. For everyone else, it isn’t great, but I suppose if you’re a fan of those old comic strips from Buster(maybe it fits an aesthetic?), then it might be worth checking out.
Geek-o-Rama received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments and opinions are those of the individual reviewer.