Ebony and Sammy are on detective duty as they track down one of the Spirit’s old nemeses in order to find out what really happened to him. Commissioner Dolan and Councilman Palmer deal with a bunch of lowlifes at the docks, while Ellen has a special dinner date with Archie. Is it good?
Will Eisner’s The Spirit #2 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Will Eisner’s The Spirit #2 begins with Ebony and Sammy taking a look around Denny Colt’s secret lair – it is located in the perfect spot for a hero named The Spirit! Matt Wagner continues to build on the chemistry he set in the first issue as Ebony and Sammy begin digging through Denny’s old case files. Their excitement about all of the villains The Spirit defeated is contagious and you find yourself wanting to learn more about all of these murderers, extortionists, swindlers, and thieves. Although, there was one line of dialogue that felt out of place and didn’t really flow with the conversation. Ebony mentions he has an odd feeling about breaking and entering into the lair; however, after confirmation that they are indeed breaking and entering, he just shrugs it off and mentions he may even do worse than breaking and entering. It was too quick of a transition from a leery feeling to an “I’m ready to do whatever it takes attitude.”
Wagner continues to explore the dynamic between the Commissioner and the Councilman with Councilman Palmer acting like a typical politician, accepting praise for an accomplishment he didn’t achieve. (Am I being too hard on politicians? Nah.) The dynamic is also entertaining as Wagner perfectly characterizes Dolan as the grumpy commissioner while Palmer is the exploitative councilman who seems to be lacking in the brains department.
The real meat of the story is the introduction of the villain, Mister Carrion. Wagner quickly characterizes him as a complete scumbag, victimizing an old woman in an apparent marriage scam. (Don’t people know not to trust email from Nigeria?) However, there is some depth to the character given his obsession with and love for his pet buzzard. Wagner is able to really capture the time period with his dialogue between Carrion, Ebony, and Sammy and he masterfully combines light humor with a serious interrogation.
Aiding Wagner in creating the personality for Carrion is the lettering studio, A Larger World Studios. The font they use for Carrion really created a pompous, sneering attitude in my head. It isn’t just the font they use with Carrion either; the entire issue utilizes a number of unique and creative letter usages. There are some word bubbles that lend themselves as newspaper titles, while others are able to depict stuttering by separating and offsetting each individual letter in the dialogue. This is probably some of the best lettering I have seen in a comic to date.
Dan Schkade’s artwork is hit or miss in this episode. The action sequence is really top-notch. He even includes minor details such as The Spirit’s suit coat and shirt tearing underneath his arm due to the ferocity of a punch that would make Ronda Rousey proud. He uses multiple different angles to really give a 360-degree view of certain action sequences. However, some of the up-close shots distort certain characters’ facial features. There is one panel where Ebony’s face looks like it is literally sliding off his skull. There also might be some complaints regarding the lack of detail in the background of many of the panels. This is actually a positive because it allows Brennan Wagner the opportunity to really use his colors to highlight certain emotions.
Brennan Wagner does this exceptionally well during the combat sequence against Carrion, using oranges and reds to highlight excitement and increased tension. He is also masterful at using light to focus attention on Schkade’s artwork.
Is It Good?
Matt Wagner once again masterfully crafts a serious but fun story. He is able to touch on a number of different issues that are pertinent in today’s world, but he doesn’t dwell on them or really take a position, allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions. The dialogue was great and captures the time period. The interactions between the various characters is very well done and highlights their personality. They are characters you want to follow and learn more about.
Schkade’s artwork was generally good but there were some misses regarding facial features where they appeared to be sliding off characters’ skulls during the sequence with Carrion. The action and chase sequence was an exceptional piece of sequential storytelling with each panel really drawing you further in and building to the climax.
The standout in this issue was the lettering by A Larger World Studios. It was absolutely brilliant. It experimented with a number of different styles and fonts and succeeded on all occasions, providing tone, capturing unease, and detailing sound effects.