REVIEW: “Will Eisner’s The Spirit” (Vol. 1) by Darwyn Cooke

Will Eisner’s The Spirit

Darwyn Cooke
DC Comics, 2007

Finished 3 May 2010

I was reading a book on the history of graphic novels (specifically, comics of the “Golden Age”) and when I read the synopsis for Will Eisner’s The Spirit I thought it sounded like another series I would really enjoy. So when I saw this book at the library I had to pick it up. Of course, it’s not the original, but I didn’t know that to begin with, and in any case it was still quite enjoyable. From the Goodreads summary:

Darwyn Cooke – the visionary creator of the acclaimed DC: THE NEW FRONTIER — turns his attention to the classic Will Eisner creation The Spirit in this amazing hardcover collecting the first six issues of the new series from DC Comics plus the BATMAN/THE SPIRIT special! In these thrilling tales. Cooke maintains the “spirit” of Eisner’s creation but brings his own original sensibilities to the character. The Spirit, a.k.a. Denny Colt, Commissioner Dolan, and his Daughter Ellen are reintroduced in this go-for-broke, shoot-the-lights-out collection of crime stories filled with action, adventure, humor and sexy girls!

It’s pretty much a superhero-type story, except in this case the main character, Denny Colt, is presumed dead after an accident, shoved in a tomb and forgotten about. Except for the fact that he’s not actually dead: the ‘poison’ he ingested simply made it look like he was. So, he comes back to life and takes advantage of his deceased status in order to fight crime as the vigilante “The Spirit.”

The art was somewhat – simplistic, shall we say, but the stories were engaging and I enjoyed the book. It definitely helps to know the back story before you start reading, as the author apparently presumes his readers are all male comic book fans from way back (don’t you hate it when authors do that?). I wouldn’t really count this as a “Graphic Novel” per se since it’s actually a collection of comic books, but it needs a category so that’s where it’s going for the time being.

When it comes down to it, it was kind of blah. A fun, quick read, but not one that left a lasting impression or about which I have much to say. I’m still interested in tracking down the original, though, so it wasn’t all bad!


  1. Glasd to see your interest was piqued by The Spirit, Black Sheep, but you really do need to track down the original. DC’s Archives series (26 hardcover volumes) covers it all, but you might want to jump in around the post-war era (1946-1950) for what most regard as the best years. DC also did an inexpensive black & white collection and you can still find many of the Kitchen Sink Press Spirit comics and magazines on eBay pretty cheap if budget is an issue! I’ll be curious what your review is after seeing Eisner himself. And you should also check out his graphic novels (most are published these days by W. W. Norton, along with his three definitive instructional books) but, again, Kitchen Sink and DC versions of nearly all the GNscan be had cheap on line.

      • Black Sheep
      • May 8th, 2010

      Hey, thanks for the tip! I’ll have to investigate and see if I can track some down. I have Eisner’s Contract With God trilogy on my list to read shortly as well. Judging by what I’ve heard, he’s definitely one of those whose work you really have to experience if you’re interested in graphic novels.

  1. June 1st, 2010

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