Writer/Artist: Darwyne Cooke, J. Bone(i), Dave Stewart(c)
In terms of art and story, as well as the theme of the story, this issue of The Spirit is a model of superior craftsmanship and in keeping of Will Eisner's vision. Cooke provides a reason behind this haunting of the Spirit's origin. That reason will likely play a greater part in future issues of the series, but the introduction does not diminish the stand-alone nature of the book.
Private eye, Denny Colt originally was caught in Dr. Cobra's experiment and fell victim to suspended animation. He was declared dead, entombed but returned as The Spirit. Cooke doesn't change the basics of the origin. Rather he enhances and updates it.
In the new origin, Cobra is not a mad doctor but an operative working for The Octagon, a fine name for any James Bond inspired terrorist group. An experiment doesn't suspend Denny Colt's life functions. Instead, he's exposed to a nerve toxin, about to be laced into Central City's water supply.
Cooke changes more than just the trappings of the Spirit's origin. He creates greater depth with richer personalities, exhibited through superb artwork and each character's narration. Denny Colt is a kind of Type A personality. He changes as a result of his death. Despite the Spirit's bravado, he's a more cautious figure than Denny Colt, and he's less of glory grabber. Denny's purpose was to make a name for himself. The Spirit attempts to do good and as evinced in a previous issue stay out of the spotlight.
Ebony White meets Denny Colt by chance and his reasons for sticking by the Spirit become more profound. Ellen's acceptance of Denny Colt gains more substance through events leading up to his rebirth. Commissioner Dolan also reveals the reason why he tolerates this vigilante in his city. It's not just because of all the good he does or Ellen's love for him. Even the Spirit's trademark fedora gets a little more meaning from the story.
Cooke splits the story into two periods of time, and he uses two different styles of artwork. The period of the Spirit benefits from sharper imagery. As if to foster memory's lack of substance Cooke chooses a more sketchy appearance for the period in which the origin's set. As though to emphasize the emotional charge, Stewart's colors become wilder and more vivid in the memories of the characters.
Darwyn Cooke's third issue of The Spirit is a winner. Usually I tend to shy away from revisits of origin stories. Usually the updated versions tend to add superfluous information or do not significantly change the origin enough for the better to warrant the second view. In many ways, it's like the remake of a classic movie. Why remake The Day the Earth Stood Still? Better effects do not always translate into a better presentation. Just rebroadcast the original. Occasionally though, sometimes the re-evaluation is worth reading, or in the case of a movie seeing. The Spirit is such a beast.
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