Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
Publisher: DC Comics
I have really enjoyed Darwyn Cooke’s revision and revitalization of Will Eisner’s The Spirit. He has done a fantastic job capturing the drama, humor, tone and action of a character that epitomizes comic books. I will admit that the series did hit a bit of a slump, but Cooke managed to keep the general idea behind the series and it’s plethora of extraordinary characters moving along. After last issue’s “Summer Special” featuring a few different stories, my hope for the Spirit is that DC realizes that no one should touch him except for Dawryn Cooke. It’s not that there is anything wrong with the other writers; it’s just that Cooke’s vision is so well-done that it’s hard to want anything else.
The first issue of this series was the ultimate hook. It was funny, action-packed, suspenseful and contained a lot of story into one major plotline that started and ended in the first issue. That’s the same way this issue goes from start to finish. Cooke masterfully crams a lot of story into one major plotline with all the humor, action, suspense and Spirit you could want in a 22 page comic. This issue really felt like I was watching a high-octane action movie such as The Rock. While the story wasn’t nearly as outlandish as Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage taking out a small platoon, it was a well-told, self-contained adventure that reminded me about the true nature of this series. I think my only disappointment with this issue was the way that “The Spirit” was spelled out; I’ve found that the way “The Spirit” is spelled out in the opening credits is one of the major things I look forward to in this series.
This series could function exceedingly well as either an animated television show along the lines of Batman: The Animated Series or could prove to be a decent TV drama. The way Cooke opens the story with the main conflict is spectacular and allows for no time to be wasted building up to the conflict. TV Journalist Ginger Coffee (I love that name) gives readers everything they need to know about this story on the first page. The Spirit’s number one villain, the Octopus, has apparently stolen a nuclear device. So before you can even turn the page, the situation is set-up and the main characters are covered. It’s a style of story telling that is common these days, but it’s also very effective because the action and the dialogue between the Octopus and Spirit is great, as is the interaction between Spirit and Agent Satin. A slow build-up to the conflict is completely unnecessary.
The generic plot of “nuclear device is stolen, hero must stop it” is not even the point of this issue; it’s simply a method of moving the main story from point A to point B. The main focus of this story is essentially Agent Satin, the sultry CIA agent with whom the Spirit has kept company as of late. Of course, the relationship between the Spirit and Satin will no doubt create tension between our masked hero and his galpal Ellen Dolan. The relationship does a great job furthering the character development of both characters, primarily Satin. There’s a moment in this issue when Satin briefly suffers a case of amnesia. The insight into her character is huge and will no doubt come into play as this series streamlines itself into a much more consistent storyline. Not to mention the way she gets over her amnesia will possibly have a major impact on the series as well. While everything may seem a bit outlandish, this series is so much fun and so well done that it doesn’t really matter. We’re talking comic books after all; there has to be some suspension of disbelief.
The situation is something we have seen numerous times before. Our heroes are stuck with the nuclear device and don’t know which wire to cut. There’s the FBI field commander who doesn’t trust them and then there’s the always hopeful police chief who holds out hope that the heroes will prevail. It sounds like a generic action movie or something from the mid to late 90s, but Darwyn Cooke launches this issue into greatness with the character development, dialogue and action that he has proven himself to be the master of. And to top it all off, Cooke’s artwork is definitely at its finest thus far. He captures the tone of his stories and his characters so well and so distinctly that when I think of the Spirit I can’t help but think of Cooke’s version before all others, except Eisner’s of course.
Every issue of this series that Cooke does is fantastic, and this series only continues to get better. I really hope that Cooke never leaves The Spirit and Frank Miller goes away and let’s Darwyn Cooke take control of all things Spirit related. This is my Pick of the Week.
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