Will Eisner’s The Spirit by Matt Wagner

Will Eisner’s The Spirit #1 by Matt Wagner is a worthy successor to the original series of this comic book icon. Wagner’s homage to Eisner and the character of the Spirit is terrifically written and the artwork is true to the original. This is not a new take or a new interpretation of the character but a comic book sequel that is sure to please both fans of the original and comic fans in general who are new to this character.
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The Spirit has gone missing and is presumed dead. But his friends Ebony White and Sammy refuse to accept this possibility and go searching for their crime fighting friend. Meanwhile, Commisioner Dolan looks to be ready to retire as his police force is slowly being taken over by a publicity hound of a politician. His daughter, the true love of the Spirit, Ellen, tries to carry on but knows that it is time for her to on with her own life. Has the crime fighting, blue masked hero finally fallen prey to one his nefarious rogue’s gallery of enemies and list of beautiful femme fatales? The headlines of Central City cry out. “WHO KILLED THE SPIRIT?”

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Will Eisner is one of comicdoms masters and The Spirit is long considered to have been his masterpiece and now, on the 75th anniversary of its first release, Wagner is releasing a 12 issue arc staring the iconic character. A daunting and ambitious undertaking and one Wagner pulls off wonderfully. He does it by not changing a thing about the original. Something we have witnessed too much of lately as today’s young crew of comic book writer’s go out of their way to take iconic characters and change them to fit their own ideas and social beliefs. That is hubris at it’s saddest and its worst.

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Eisner is to comics what the Leonardo is to art or Shakespeare is to writing. You can’t make it better you can only hope to honor it and carry on its legacy. It takes a certain amount of respect and humility to pull that off. The group behind the animated release of The Killing Joke failed miserably on that point. Thank God for all of us fans that Wagner does not here.

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Set in the 1940s, The Spirit is Dick Tracy with a Batman attitude. For those of us who have little or no actual knowledge of the Spirit comics, this is a good series to break in with. I guarantee you it will have you looking for back issues of Eisner’s original work.

Thank you Matt Wagner for this work. I have to believe Eisner is smiling down on this one.


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