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Fourthman Reviews The Spirit #1

Written by Lee Newman on Friday, April 23 2010 and posted in Reviews

The Spirit is back and he's brought comics legends with him!

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:

The Spirit #1
Published by DC Comics

"Angel Smerti - Part 1"
Written by Mark Schultz
Illustrated by Moritat
Colored by Gabriel Bautista

"Go To Hell"
Written by Denny O'Neil
Illustrate by Bill Siekiewicz

The Spirit returns in an all-new ongoing series! Central City destroys everyone who lives within its it's a good thing The Spirit already died once! International crime syndicate The Golden Tree wants to help Central City's Octopus consolidate control over the underworld and the Spirit is the kind of mess the Golden Tree was created to clean up. They've offered the Octopus the services of one of their finest assassins to take his breath away for good – and the sight of this killer would get anyone's heart pounding!

This issue also features the debut of the eight-page THE SPIRIT: BLACK and WHITE co-feature, showcasing the industry's finest talent. And who better to kick things off than DENNIS O'NEIL and BILL SIENKIEWICZ?



The Spirit is a bit of an obsession of mine. Those that have read my reviews for a while or talked to me about comics know that I dig the pulpy, more average person vigilante as opposed to the super powered freaks that make up most of the capes and tights books on the stands. It’s easier to connect to Batman, despite his ridiculous wealth, than it is to connect to Superman, the perfect boy scout who happens to be from another planet.

In addition to being a normal kind of Joe, Denny Colt also happens to be a creation of Will Eisner, another of my obsessions. He is considered the godfather of the graphic novel and his ability to write great stories in any genre thrown his way makes him all the better. Forget about his artwork - besides being a quick and steady hand with a keen eye for the fine line between realism and cartoon, he also revolutionized the way that four color stories are told.

The Spirit strips were often where he did his most experimental work. That’s why something like Frank Miller’s film version, Aragones’ more fun version, and Cooke’s noir vigilante can all come from the same source material. Often times, Eisner would just throw stuff out of the book - characters and story lines would just disappear.

This is the Spirit as we last saw him in First Wave #1. He is a slightly optimistic hero in a dark damp town. Dolan is a good cop who happens to be a little on the take. Dolan’s daughter is not impressed with either of them. The Octopus has a tight grip on the organized crime in Central City and he has tired of The Spirit’s meddling. As such, he is bringing in a new player, an assassin named Angel Smerti and it is obvious that good old Spirit fun is about to start!

Schultz is the perfect writer for this really. When I heard they were starting another volume I was a little worried and then the name was made known and I breathed a sigh of relief. This is the guy who has carried the torch for Prince Valiant, when he takes on a project - he has the ability to do it right and he is respectful of history.

All of that shows in this first issue. Schultz’s Central City is a city on the verge of becoming a bad place, but the kids still sing songs. Those street urchins may talk tough but will still slip the Spirit’s accomplice a tip or two. It is a place that still has hope, but can be a mirror for the dark days of violence and crime that we live in now. It is the perfect reflection for city life in America, it is neither as bad as some claim it to be, nor as good as others would lead you to believe.

Together, Schultz and comics legend, Moritat keep the ghost of Eisner on the page. The title of the book becomes a back drop in the first panel and is used elsewhere to create not only an homage to the original artist/writer, but something fresh, new and crystal clear in its story telling. There are places in the city that even resemble the tenement buildings that Eisner fans know by sight from his Dropsie Avenue. Denny has that spark and charm not only in the writing but in the artists highly detailed but still stylized panels.

Honestly, the lead story by two of comicdom’s best talents would be worth the price of admission, but DC unlike their crosstown competition, know that the fans want value for their money so they include a short back feature in black and white further accounting the eponymous hero’s adventures by two more comics legends, Denny O’Neil and Bill Sienkiewitcz! Their collaboration is an action packed tale setting a dark and gloomy mood. The pencils help with the mood but not so much with the storytelling, but it is easy enough to figure out what goes down and I’ll take both creators in whatever fashion I can.

This is the way you start a series starring a beloved character. Only time will tell if Schultz is as capable as Cooke in making the perfect action comic noir, but this is a promising debut. In fact, its by far the best thing I have read this week!


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