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Spirit, The #1

    Ian Jane

  • Spirit, The #1

    Spirit, The #1
    Released by: Dynamite Entertainment
    Released on: July 1st, 2105.
    Written: Matt Wagner
    Art by: Dan Schkade
    Purchase From Amazon

    The first page of the first issue of this latest attempt to bring back the late, great Will Eisner's latest creation starts with a splash page showing off a headline from the Central City Gazette - WHO KILLED THE SPIRIT? The article informs us that the mysterious crime fighter has been missing for two years and is presumed dead (it also gives potential first time readers a quick primer on who he is and his relationship with Police Commissioner Dolan).

    From there we catch up with Dolan himself as he's grilled by a reporter named Treadwell Stubbs who is writing a follow up story. The grilling is cut short when Councilman Weatherby Palmer chastises Dolan for allowing three squads of cops to go into overtime. With Palmer and Stubbs out of the way, Dolan flashes back to a case years back where Denny Colt helped him bag the villainous Dr. Cobra. Colt was killed in the fray and laid to rest but since his death, reports started to surface of a masked crime fighter calling himself The Spirit.

    With that quick origin recap out of the way, we head back to the present where Dolan's daughter Ellen shows up at his office asking for his help convincing the mayor to okay some school funding she's trying to secure. She knows that Palmer will be there to vote against it though she's forgotten some paperwork and sends current beau Archie back to the office to get it for her. It would seem Ellen's past with The Spirit is now nothing more than a memory and she has, quite begrudgingly, tried to move on.

    Cut to the rundown offices of Strunk and White, private investigators. They've got to turn the radio off and stop listening to the baseball game so that they can get on with their current assignment - find Teddy Dupree, he's been in deep with two thugs, Flynn and Bilkins. Our PI's find their mark and send Teddy on his way, and just as it looks like they're going to get their hats handed to them by the crooks, Strunk's cousin Francis shows up - just the muscle they need. They make a good go of it, but afterwards they realize that they miss what they had when they fought crime alongside a certain masked man, one that's been missing in action for two years now…

    Wagner's story sets up things to come in a big way. There's a good mystery here (which is obviously what has happened to The Spirit) but on top of that we see how this disappearance has affected a few of the series' better known supporting characters. It makes sense that Ellen would need to move on, that Commissioner Dolan would dodge the press and try to keep fighting the good fight and that White and Strunk would keep their detective business going - but Colt's absence has affected all of them. There was always a bit of an element of 'family' to Eisner's classic stories and Wagner brings that back to the character. At the same time we get plenty of pulp-style action and intrigue, as well as some good, clean humor.

    Dan Schkade shows an Eisner influence but never apes the master's style. There'd be no point to that. Instead he brings the right look and feel to these classic characters but still manages to put his own mark on them. In fact, sometimes his work shows more of a Matt Wagner influence than a Will Eisner influence, but given that Eisner was obviously influence on Wagner, well, things come full circle you could say. Brennan Wagner colors things rather effectively and compliments Schkade's art quite well. Throw a killer cover from Eric 'The Goon' Powell on the front and you've got yourself a pretty solid issue, one that should bring fans of The Spirit back for issue two.

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