Writer: Alyssa Wong
Artists: Kevin Libranda & Geoffo (“White Fox”), Alé Garza (“Future Avengers”)
Colorists: Israel Silva (“White Fox”), Dono Sánchez-Almara with Protobunker (“Future Avengers”)
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artist: InHyuk Lee
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Fresh off the success of the New Agents of Atlas, Marvel is continuing the rollout of their premier Asian-inspired superteam with a series of one-shot origin stories that begins in this week’s Future Fight Firsts: White Fox #1, starring the vulpine Korean intelligence agent.
White Fox wasn’t actually created for Future Fight (she first appeared in the Korean webtoon Avengers: Electric Rain and later made her comics debut in Contest of Champions), but she was recently added as a playable character in that game, tying in with the debut of the New Agents of Atlas. While her beginnings have been alluded to up to now, this one-shot finally explores how the Korean schoolgirl known as Ami Han became a masked spy drafted by Jimmy Woo.
One thing I appreciate about Future Fight Firsts: White Fox is that it shines a spotlight on Korean folklore I wasn’t privy to, namely the legend of the kumiho, or the fox spirit (comparable to the kitsune and nine-tailed fox of Japanese and Chinese folklore, respectively, both of which I did know about). As it turns out, Ami is descended from a line of kumiho, who supposedly transform into beautiful women so they can lure and devour the hearts (or livers) of men.
Obviously in Ami’s case, the legend isn’t as predatory, and the version of kumiho presented here are more sympathetic. We learn Ami witnessed her mother’s death at the hands of a samjokgu, or three-legged dog, and has been hiding her true self from the world out of fear of being found out. When her friend is abducted by some Korean gangsters, however, she’s forced to confront the kumiho side of herself and use her gift for the greater good.
Writer Alyssa Wong’s script is brisk and delivers a classic superhero origin story, but told from an Asian perspective that we don’t get much of in the American comic book industry. (Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s creator-owned Monstress is probably the leader of that right now, putting a distinctly Eastern spin on the Western variety of fantasy.) Between these Future Fight Firsts and the recent launches of fellow Agent of Atlas solo titles Aero and Sword Master, it’s good to see Marvel making an attempt to boost the profiles of pan-Asian heroes within their larger superhero line.
Kevin Libranda’s art, compared to the aforementioned Aero and Sword Master, isn’t as Asian-inspired as Wong’s story, but that’s probably by design. While those titles were originally produced for Asian readers and later translated into English, White Fox is written by an American (Wong) primarily for Western sensibilities. It’s very good nonetheless, with clean lines and fluid motion befitting a graceful figure like White Fox. Future Fight Firsts: White Fox is supplanted with a bonus story, “Future Avengers,” also written by Wong and illustrated by Alé Garza. I’m not actually sure if these are new characters or not, but the vibe of the thing itself is very anime-inspired in a way that I believe would appeal to fans of the medium. “Future Avengers” is not the main draw of this issue, but it’s not an unwelcome addition either.