Will Eisner was a pioneer in the comic book industry with his name in front of the Comic Book Hall of Fame as well as being one of the most prestigious awards given for achievements in the industry. When I found out Matt Wagner was going to be bringing back his Eisner’s fame book, The Spirit, I just had to get my hands on it to see what all the hype was about. Is it good?
Will Eisner’s The Spirit #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Matt Wagner and Dan Schkade are on creative duty and they combine to create a fun introduction to Will Eisner’s The Spirit. The highlight of the book was the diversity of characters. At first, it seems to be a typical cop drama with a hero, his police commissioner friend, and his good-looking girlfriend who just so happens to be the police commissioner’s daughter. However, Wagner and Schkade breathe life into these characters.
It is an emotional time as The Spirit has disappeared and is most likely dead. It has taken a toll on our characters as they each deal with his loss in their own way. The way the characters react to his loss automatically connects you with the title character before he is even introduced! Wagner also uses an easily dislikeable character (a politician, who would have guessed?) in order to further bolster The Spirit’s reputation to create a connection him.
Wagner is able to create this connection to The Spirit before he is even introduced through excellent dialogue. The conversation between the slick politician and an aggressive reporter is great. The reporter puts the politician on his heels, asking tough questions (if only this happened in reality *sigh*) that would force the politician into taking an actual stance.
The dialogue continues to be extremely interesting, especially in a conversation between the police commissioner and his daughter. Combined with Schkade’s artwork you can grasp the depth of emotion found within the two and the love they had for The Spirit. Ellen, the police commissioner’s daughter, breaks down emotionally. Some may call it a sign of weakness after the way she commands of her new beau, but to me it depicted the true feelings she had and still has for The Spirit. Her love is heartbreaking.
Before the story transitioned, there was a confusing scene between Dolan and The Spirit and it didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the story. However, I expect it to be further explained in forthcoming issues that may primarily deal with The Spirit rather than his associates.
The second half of the story takes on a very different, humorous tone and introduces us to a couple of new characters. Sammy and Ebony White are just plain good characters. They have great chemistry together. Ebony is the straight shooter and organizer, while Sammy is more of a cowboy. The dynamic between the two makes for fun reading whether it is Sammy asking about Ebony’s real name or the two of them taking on the scum of Central City.
Dan Schkade’s artwork is great; he really captures the characters’ emotions. He also builds up the tension effectively in combination with Wagner’s script. These build-ups lead to really awesome splash pages. Of note is his use of black areas. There are some panels where characters are set in the foreground in front of a black backdrop. It enhances the mood of the scene whether it is somber or comedic.
Schkade makes great use of inset panels. The first time we are introduced to Sammy and Ebony is through a pair of them, the first being the door to their practice identifying who they are and what they do. It was easy to see and straight to the point and Wagner didn’t have to add dialogue or unnecessary exposition to describe the characters.
I don’t talk about lettering that much, but A Larger World Studios did an excellent job with the lettering in this issue. You can hear the tone of Ellen’s voice when she cries out, “Oh Daddy..!” or when Dr. Cobra exclaims “Curses!” You can hear their inflection when you read the words and this is done because of the font choices, word bubble design, and shadowing.
Is It Good?
Will Eisner’s The Spirit is in the great hands of Matt Wagner and Dan Schkade. They tell a fun story with a number of intriguing and interesting characters who I couldn’t learn enough about in just this one issue. It also sets up story points moving forward with an investigation and the discovery of a new vigilante cleaning up the streets. The Spirit #1 is exciting, fun, and everything you want in a first issue.