September 16, 2015 – Last Wednesday issue 3 of Dynamite’s Will Eisner’s The Spirit came out. I’ve long been a fan of Will Eisner’s man of action, adventure, and romance; I also was a fan of the Frank Miller 2008 film – a little fact: I cosplayed as The Spirit when I went to see that movie on Christmas Day. There was hardly anyone there. The last time he appeared in comics was in DC Comics First Wave imprint so I was very happy to see him return and to Dynamite, no less. They have a great understanding and respect for the pulp heroes so it’s only natural that Will Eisner’s The Spirit has found a home in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey. While I wasn’t a big fan of the first two issues of Matt Wagner’s run, issue 3 is a return to a character that’s one of the most fun in comic books.
It’s appropriate that in The Spirit’s 75th year anniversary that he has an ongoing comic book. The Dynamite series by Matt Wagner and Dan Schkade stands testament to that. Unfortunately, an issue that arises with so many of the great pulp characters like The Spirit or John Carter is how many modern readers are actually aware of their exploits and are willing to read them? It’s something I often think about and, if it wasn’t for Dynamite, it’s very possible that many of these heroes could have faded into obscurity. While issue 3 of Will Eisner’s The Spirit by Matt Wagner still doesn’t feature The Spirit in a starring role, it does feel more in tone to Will Eisner’s original stories than the first two issues. The main story arc has concerned itself with the disappearance of Denny Colt a.k.a. The Spirit and other than appearances that feature the hero in the past, we never see him in the present. This mystery is up to fledgling detectives Strunk and White.
Matt Wagner’s characterizations and handling of Ebony White and Sammy Strunk are significantly better than their appearances in previous runs. They are both written more politically correct with Ebony White taking on a much sharper, more literate, and active participant role by helping drive the story forward. As a fan of The Spirit, I’m well aware of how much the characters were a creation of their time. While Darwyn Cooke left much of The Spirit’s history and mythology untouched, it’s much more in service to The Spirit’s longevity that he’s been updated, albeit slightly by Matt Wagner.
As another page turns in the mystery of “Who killed The Spirit?”, or where has has gone to, issue 3 begins with a study of a native fisherman. It would seem out of place if it wasn’t for the fact that most of Will Eisner’s The Spirit stories focused more on the common man and how much The Spirit would run through it. Think of it more as riding a train, not next to The Spirit, but with him conducting. In this sense, Matt Wagner’s story is very much an homage to the work of the master – Mr. Will Eisner!
While I was uncertain as to whether or not I was enjoying Dynamite’s ongoing Will Eisner’s The Spirit for the first two issues, this third issue has won me over. I have a great appreciation for Matt Wagner’s work and feel that he has not only created a book suitable for fans of the blue-suited, red tie, and fedora wearing hero, but a new series suitable for those looking to escape DC and Marvel Comics.
Will Eisner’s The Spirit is 75 years old and it’s because of publishers like Dynamite, writers like Matt Wagner, and artists like Dan Schkade that keep him going. As lovers of the comic book medium and of good solid storytelling, we ask that you check out Will Eisner’s The Spirit on your next trip to your local comic shop.
Will Eisner’s The Spirit issue 3 gets four stars!