Thursday, December 14, 2006

Review: The Spirit #1

The Spirit #1

Written and Illustrated by Darwyn Cooke

Published by DC Comics

Well, I must say, I was blown away by The Spirit #1. Understand, I really didn’t think it was such a great idea to try to revive the series at all. Will Eisner’s Spirit stories have become legendary, and with good reason, so I thought a revival would be tantamount to filming a new version of Casablanca. I was also leery of DC’s plans to have the series set in the modern day, as the noirish aspects of the series might get lost in a world of cell phones and cable TV. Darwyn Cooke is fast becoming a creator whose work I'll buy sight unseen, and in the Spirit #1, he put those fears to rest beyond my wildest expectations. Cooke’s Spirit works in a noir-drenched world that seamlessly integrates the modern world. Cooke wisely avoids copying Eisner’s style, but stays very close to the (ahem) spirit of the original stories. Also wisely, he keeps “perfect” characters like Dolan and Denny Colt very close to their original template, while updating problematic characters like Ebony White. The original Ebony had pretty much become unusable, due to his racially insulting appearance, but the new version actually looks like a human being. Ebony was always a much deeper and nobler character than his appearance indicated anyway, so this update is long overdue. Cooke also introduces several new characters this issue, including Ginger Coffee, a manic newswoman, and the Pill, a truly disgusting new crime boss. A fantastic job all around, the new Spirit really, surprisingly, works. Buy it.


The Mutt said...

I loved the Spirit, but in a world where there are so few comics that won't offend my 8 year old nephew's mom, did Cooke really need to include "crap" "son of a bitch" and God damn"?

Brian Hughes said...

That's no worse than you hear on primetime TV these days. Seems to be the way of the world now. I find it hilarious that on TV, "God damn" becomes "(bleep) damn". You can say "damn", but not "God". Unbelievable.

Those "Johnny DC" and "Marvel Adventures" books are pretty harmless, and pretty well done. Your nephew (and his mom) might dig them.

coco67 said...

I was wary of the update, too, and it knocked my socks off! The only thing that seemed odd was the full issue story. After reading the character in seven page chunks for so long it was strange. I guess in today's decompressed storytelling atmosphere, seven pages to twenty-some is OK considering Spidey's seven page origin became like eight issues!

Brian Hughes said...

7 pages was perfect for Eisner, but I haven't seen too many modern creators that can pull it off. "Ice Ginger Coffee" was by no means decompressed, anyway - Hell, we got a whole story in one issue!