REVIEW: The Spirit #1

WRITER: Matt Wagner
ARTIST(s): Dan Schkade
LETTERER: A Larger World Studios
COLORIST: Brennan Wagner
COVER ARTIST(s): Eric Powell
PUBLISHER: Dynamite Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: 07/1/2015

It’s a sad truth about being a comic lover: chances are, you won’t read all of them. I mean, you start getting into them at a certain age and then you begin working your way backwards and forwards at the same time, indulging in Golden Age goodness that you later complement with some newer stuff and some classics, all the while keeping your eye on your wallet to make sure you don’t do what you really want to do and blow your life savings on some funny books. For me, the Spirit is one of those classic heroes that I’ve always wanted to get into, but I’ve simply never taken the time. I mean, I’m a pretty big DC guy (they’re the guys with the half-page ads), so how could I possibly take the time to read some of Will Eisner’s classic stories when I could get the same Golden Age experience with such champions as Green Arrow, Superman, and Captain Marvel?

It’s with this in mind that I must say, I absolutely loved this comic. In one issue, Wagner masterfully blends the old with the new, bringing in a sense of nostalgia for the Golden Age that perfectly matches the fun dialogue and wacky characters. Everyone’s dying to know what happened to the Spirit, and the comic has a bit of a Dark Knight Returns-feel to it, as we know once he comes back, the old commissioner will be happy, as will the city itself, but the new commissioner won’t be. The Spirit’s ex-girlfriend is shown as strong, but then it’s revealed how much of it is a facade when she begins crying over her assumed-deceased boyfriend. The flashbacks may be the best part, as we get to be whisked away from this glum time and to a better one, one where the Spirit is Central City’s (hmm, where’s the Flash?) protector of the night. In fact, the only slower moment for me was starring two detectives that decide to try and figure out the great mystery. I’m sure longtime Spirit fans will rejoice at seeing them, but as someone who’s never gotten into these comics, I have like zero interest in this duo.

The art is also pretty solid throughout. The few times Schkade falters in his defined pencils/inks, he’s saved by Wagner’s masterful coloring, which really makes you feel like you’re reading an old 1940s comic. The flashbacks are definitely the highpoint, as both artists (as well as the letterer) decidedly give me the most concisely nice origin story for a superhero I’ve never taken too much interest in.

All in all, there’s not many people I wouldn’t recommend this book to (maybe Golden-Age-phobics? Really reaching here). Longtime fans of Will Eisner’s classic character will probably love it; hell, even people who aren’t fans will probably love it. I mean, I’ve never picked up a comic of this character, and now I’m already convinced to pull it next month myself, to continue this awesome story.

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