Entries in The Spirit (2)

Matt Reviews: Will Eisner's The Spirit

Hello dorks. It's been a while since I last posted a review. Sorry about that. You all know how time simply flies. Plus I have somewhat of an excuse; I've been very busy with school. Why didn't I write any reviews over the winter break, you ask? Well you'll have to figure that out for yourself.

I have one book I want to review tonight. I'm going to review a book that actually came out last week. It was so good that it needed two weeks for me to fully appreciate it. Will Eisner's The Spirit #10, written by David Hine. This month's issue features a very cool cover pose of The Spirit dodging some bullets. The title of the story, Crime and Punishment actually pays homage to the famous Russian novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky. The two plots are very similar. Many of you literary types out there will be familiar with the basic plot structure of Crime and Punishment(1866). The ex-student, Raskolnikov, plans the murder of a corrupt pawn-broker. In this comic rendition, the criminal Roscoe Kalashnikov(great name) takes center stage instead of the title's namesake. This one-issue story leaves the typical genre of hardboiled fiction and the whodunit to focus on the psychological aspect of the criminal's mind. Within the book, we follow Kalashnikov as he comes to terms over his guilt of the pawnbroker's murder. Along the way we get a fascinating glimpse into his inner fears, including the typical Freudian issues of parental abuse mixed with an intense fear of bugs. Really, just like the novel it was based off of, the plot of this story isn't so much the murder and the investigation by the detective, but the plot of Kalashnikov's mind as he journeys through its dark interiors. The ending leaves the reader satisfied if not a little creeped out by the sense of folly fate leads us into.

I really dig what is going on with this new volume of The Spirit. The artwork by John Kantz and Gabriel Bautista really emphasizes the grittiness of the city along with its superb use of dull colors. Also, the writing by David Hine is just excellent. I also like the ambiguity of what era these stories are exactly set in. True to its origins, the book features many aspects of a pulp-era 1930s and 40s gangster-ridden American city. But along with that we get traces of the modern and contemporary, specifically in some of the younger characters who act as The Spirit's sidekicks and close friends.

This book really isn't getting the attention I feel it deserves. To me it has become one of those top deckers, the books I immediately place at the top of my stack of comics to read. The First Wave line of books published by DC Comics have really drawn me into the pulp era of literature. Another series I like includes Doc Savage, though I feel it has a lot of catching up to do to match The Spirit for my affection. The revival of the pulps is a great thing, and like film noir, which has had its revival, I believe that this is a time for the neo-pulp to resurrect itself.

This has been Matt Reviews. Thank you and goodnight.     

Matt Reviews: Week of August 18th

Good evening, dorks. After a rough night at work, I like to lie back and read the comic books I bought for that week. Lets get to it, shall we?

First up, Will Eisner's The Spirit #5, written by David Hine. This issue is part 2 of the new story arc, Frost Bite. In this story, The Spirit must battle the presence of a new drug, nicknamed frost, plaguing the streets of Central City. This story is definatly an anti-drug tale, and seems as if it were written specifically for that purpose. Drug related issues are not foreign to comic books. Back in the 1970s, both Spiderman and Green Arrow dealt with the problems of drug addiction. Specifically, Spiderman saves a doped teenager from attempting to fly from a rather high building in Amazing Spider-Man, issues #96-98, and Green Arrow discovers that his young ward, Speedy, is addicted to a certain drug (heroin, I believe), in Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85-86. The teens who get hooked on this new drug, frost, are depicted as victims, which I appreciated. In this issue, Spirit must get a young girl named Ebony to a doctor before she freezes in the frigid weather. Suitable enough concerning the name of the drug, Central City is suffering the worst blizzard on record, and Spirit has miles of snow to chug through to get to the doctor. Taking advantage of the situation, a hit is put on his The Spirit, and while he is dealing with saving Ebony, he must also contend with every criminal in the metropolis. There is a nice psychedelic splash page, where a very tripped out Ebony sees The Spirit battling the criminals. Overall, I'm really enjoying where this series is going, and I think Will Eisner would be proud to see where his creation is going. A bonus for this series is the second feature. This issue's story was written by David Lapham(need I say more?) The Spirit Black and White is definatly an awesome addition to this series of books.

Now how could we possible top a book like The Spirit? I'm glad you asked, because my next review is of Star Wars Legacy #50, written by John Ostrander and Jan Duursema, and the final issue in the series! Wow. I could leave it at that and feel complete in my review. But lets look closer. When I first heard that this series was going to be cancelled, I gnashed my teeth and swore to the gods. How could something so good end? I dismissed whoever said to me, "but remember, all good things must come to an end." However, letting the news sink in, I soon calmed down and realized that this series was one hell of a epic story, and I was just glad to have read such a book. Plus I had been reading this books since #1 first came out, about 4-5 years ago. I had been reading this book since I was a freshman in high school! Anyway, since the series was closing down, I settled in for a epic, be all, end all, battle for the galaxy between the Jedi and the Sith. As the issues got closer to #50, I began to think, "They better begin to resolve some of these plot lines, or they're never gonna have enough time!" Some clever store clerk, who's also a fellow Star Wars guru, pointed out, and Dan I'm looking at you, that they can't just end the story here. The story was going to continue even if the series didn't. Lo and behold, Dark Horse has announced a six-issue miniseries to proceed and possibly conclude from Legacy, entitled War, slotted to begin this December. That's awesome.

Putting aside that long rambling of mine, the issue is fantastic conclusion to the series. Though Cade Skywalker isn't the most heroic character, we still feel for him as he struggles to understand his destiny(it seems Skywalker and epic destiny go hand in hand). Scorning the label of Jedi, he is still a man who struggles to see good things happen, and sacrifices as much, and I'd say even more than any other Jedi. There are some epic moments in this issue, and all I can really say is you'd have to read them for yourself to get the full experience of the issue. Simply excellent.

Finally, I'd like to briefly mention Harlan Ellison's Phoenix Without Ashes #1. Harlan Ellison, enough said. Also Cullen Bunn's The Sixth Gun #3, from Oni Press reveals some background on the antagonists chasing the heroes of our tale. Excellent new series, dealing with western and demonic themes. 

Next week, I'm looking forward to Action Comics #892, and Green Arrow #3. Farewell for now.