"Day of the Dead"
Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke, J. Bone (i), Dave Stewart (colors)
Publisher: DC Comics
With this issue, Darwyn Cooke finishes up his only Spirit storyarc. The story echoes to the very beginnings of the Spirit where Denny Colt then a vainglorious gumshoe during an investigation succumbs to suspended animation. Thought to be dead, Denny Colt creates the persona of the Spirit to better serve Central City.
Cooke a few issues ago introduced the insane mother of El Morte, a hood caught in the same accident that enslumbered Denny Colt. Through a combination of sorcery and science, El Morte rose again, though much, much later, to beat the Spirit senseless. This issue represents the culmination of his plans.
I will definitely miss Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone. This issue illustrates why. Easy to read for the faithful or the fresh, vividly depicted and rife with imagination that's directed into design and characterization, The Spirit under the conduction of Cooke and Bone distinguished itself from the same-old, same-old books on the rack. The Spirit looked different. The Spirit read differently. It's really that simple.
This issue benefits from pulp sensibilities set upon the modern day. When the creative team announce the title, the dead can be seen rising from the muck on two pages. They drip the Spirit's name in homage to Eisner. They shamble forward and cannot be felled by Central City's finest. The action against the dead travels panel to panel and in a wide variety of depiction.
The craziness of the Spirit saves one officer, but two and three fall in his place. The zombies have a master, and he orders them to lay waste to the police and then the city. The battle occurs fittingly on the bridge--the site of a classic zombie movie memory. Science can save the day but at the cost of the Spirit's life. Fortunately, the Spirit has a partner that's just as nuts as he is, and it's Ebony's daring that prevents injustice.
The Spirit's own narration adds depth to the ghoulishly packed panels. He gives hints to the reader why he fights. He demonstrates through his charged words the change that occurred when he eked out a second chance on life. He takes responsibility for his actions, and it's a hero's characteristic that makes him feel each death as weight on his shoulders.
While this horror unfolds, Ellen Dolan reveals an inner strength that makes her shine brighter than P'Gel, Silk Satin or Ginger Coffee. Cooke also gives her a dual purpose. In Hitchcock movies, blondes catalyze trouble. Ellen has one repeated goal: to "save the man she loves." She involves another character and leads him to doom as well as valor. You feel sorry for him, but Cooke's added twist makes it difficult to be angry at Ellen. Afterall, he definitely wasn't really fighting for her. She may have put the idea in his head, but he was the one who chose to follow through. Still, after this issue, it's difficult to look at her as the "nice" girl.
Those that follow Cooke and Bone have big shoes to fill. I'll certainly give Sergio Argones a chance, and he and his artist can succeed if they keep The Spirit a romp that's unique among the comic books on the rack.
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