Saturday, July 4, 2015

Will Eisner's The Spirit #1

   I've written before about my love for Will Eisner's seminal, legendary work on The Spirit, a hero who first started as a long-running comic book that was (believe it or else) inserted into Sunday newspapers in the 1940s and '50s.

   The character has lived on in reprints over the years since (including a magazine line from Warren, comic books from Eclipse, and Archive Editions from DC Comics), but his appearances in new adventures have been hit-and-miss, with the best being Darwyn Cooke's take.

   Now the character, happily, is back in a new series from Dynamite.

   Or is he?

   The premise of this opening story is that The Spirit has been missing for two years and is presumed dead.

   For this who came in later, the hero is former detective Denny Colt who almost died fighting a mad scientist and works with police as an "independent contractor" (of sorts) to catch the bad guys the law can't touch.

   But if you don't know anything about the character, this issue, written by Matt Wagner, does a terrific job of bringing you up to speed as it re-introduces the supporting cast, their relationship with The Spirit, and sets up the opening storyline.

   And yes, it includes Ebony White, the African-American sidekick who was (sadly) depicted in the manner of a racial stereotype in the original run. The new team fixes that, don't worry.

   The artwork by Dan Schkade walks a fine line between evoking Eisner's work with being too slavish - and without being too cartoony. It's good work, though perhaps it suffers slightly in comparison to the original work by Eisner, a master of creative layout, design and mood.

   It's great to see the character back in action, and here's hoping that the series continues to honor Eisner and his most famous creation (now celebrating his 75th year).

Grade: A-



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