Review - Will Eisner's The Spirit #1

Is that...? I-I don't believe it! Colt! You're...alive?!"

Being killed by the criminals you're chasing doesn't typically end well for the one on the side of justice. There are some instances though where such an event galvanizes a man of justice into something of a hero. In Will Eisner's The Spirit #1 from Dynamite Entertainment, that's exactly what Danny Colt goes through. The issue is written by Matt Wagner, illustrated by Dan Schkade, colored by Brennan Wagner and lettered by A Larger World Studios.

Set in the classic period of The Spirit's golden age, the 1940s, the first 12-issue story arc follows the strip's most beloved characters, Commissioner Dolan, his daughter Ellen, Ebony White and Sammy as they attempt to uncover why The Spirit has been missing, and presumed dead, for the past two years. Has the famous blue-masked hero finally fallen victim to one of the malicious felons or beautiful femme fatales from his lengthy rogues' gallery of enemies? In the words of Central City's most prominent headlines: "WHO KILLED THE SPIRIT?"

One of Will Eisner's most enduring creations is The Spirit, who really needs no introduction. The character is rooted in pulp sensibilities with a noir superhero take, all of which Wagner nails in Will Eisner's The Spirit #1. The work honors the characters 75th anniversary and Wagner really taps into the zeitgeist of The Spirit for presenting something of an origin story. Each of the characters in The Spirit #1 boast a cheeky sensibility about them that fits well within the pulp narrative crafted by Wagner, one where Central City is awash in crime and looking for its staunchest defender. Wagner's script effectively introduces the reader to all the main players, focusing more on the characters who aren't named The Spirit to further flesh out everyone who is and will be affected by the crime in the city.

What really stands out about Will Eisner's The Spirit #1 is the artwork by Schkade. Schkade successfully blends a comic strip look for the characters that feels dated but modern at the same time. In fact, much of the artwork is very reminiscent of some of Eric Powell's work in The Goon, only without the more supernatural elements. Danny Colt maintains the trademark suit/mask/hat combo that makes him so iconic while all the other characters demonstrate a lot of personality as well. Every page and panel is teeming with action, as Schkade alternates between filling out the backgrounds and leaving them blank for great effect. Brennan Wagner relies on a very rich color palette that adds further effect to the action, providing each character with a color theme of sorts that then pervades the pages they're featured on.

Will Eisner's The Spirit #1 is a great first issue of a twelve-issue series that brings the famous character back in a big way. The Spirit has his work cut out for him in keeping Central City safe, but he's not without allies throughout. Wagner's script is very smooth and does a great job of getting the reader up to speed if they're not already familiar with the character. Schkade's illustrations are cartoony yet effective and effectively capture the essence of Central City, which is a character itself. Will Eisner's The Spirit #1 will definitely be worth picking up if you're a fan of the character, but those who have heard of him and want to know more will also find a lot to take in here.

Will Eisner's The Spirit #1 is in stores June 30.