By Hayden Mears

Fox and Hare #1

Writer: John Tsuei
Artist: Stacey Lee
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Cover Artist: Stacey Lee
Publisher: Vault Comics

The hotly anticipated Fox and Hare #1 was pushed back nearly seven months so that its creative team could rework the story. The problem, according to series scribe Jon Tsuei, was that there wasn’t enough “punk” in his cyberpunk comic. The genre has long been associated with the fetishization and erasure of Asian culture and Tsuei wanted his story to combat those harmful trends. Now, with its first issue finally on shelves, it seems Tsuei, artist Stacey Lee, and the folks at Vault Comics have unleashed the product they intended: a breathless, evocative, and “punky” cyberpunk thriller that further cements Tsuei and Lee as two of the best creators in the business.

The plot, on its barest bones, follows mercenaries Fox and Hare as they attempt to save a savvy coder from the wrath of Synastry Designs. The mega corporation will stop at nothing to silence the coder—and recover what she stole—before she can compromise their plans.

Fox and Hare #1 is an energetic cyberpunk adventure replete with everything we’ve come to love about the Vault library. It’s an offbeat story with boundary-pushing characters and fresh angles on tired ideas, a piece of sci-fi that only feels familiar because it uses genre-specific conceits as jumping-off points. But from there, anything goes.

Tsuei and Lee bring this slick world into sharp focus through the struggles of its central players: black market coder Aurora Yi and the mercenary pair known as Fox and Hare. Lee and colorist Raul Angulo‘s art cleanly and clearly establishes Mazu Bay as a distinct yet familiar place. We’ve seen rainy port cities before. We’ve seen neon-tinted, red light district-looking neighborhoods. The setting resembles places we’ve all been before, whether it was through a transportive story or physically being there.

What we haven’t seen, though, is how these new characters interact with what we already know. That’s part of why you won’t find many establishing shots or detailed backgrounds in Lee’s work here. She knows we have a sense of the place and is more interested in selling us on these people and their problems. Furthering that point: her panel structure deftly communicates the script’s focused action and frenetic energy, further streamlining Tsuei’s busy story. Lee’s art shines when it showcases a character’s involvement in the action rather than the action itself.

Fox and Hare #1 is a briskly paced and vividly realized cyberpunk action thriller tasked with bringing new life and new flavor to a genre in desperate need of both. Everything feels tight, seamless, and intentional; the delay obviously did wonders for the story.

Published by Vault Comics, Fox and Hare #1 is available in stores and digitally now.