The first issue of The Spirit was a fun but flawed introduction to Dynamite Entertainment’s new interpretation of the character, however with this second installment the book really hits it stride. Issue one had the unenviable task of reintroducing the characters of The Spirit’s world to a new generation who may have been unfamiliar with them, but now that groundwork has been laid Matt Wagner can build on the story that he teased in the first installment. The Spirit is still missing and the main plot-thread follows his two allies - Ebony and Sammy - as they attempt to uncover the truth about why their vigilante friend disappeared. Meanwhile, Wagner also impressively juggles other plot-threads such as the struggle between Police Commissioner Dolan and the arrogant Councilman Palmer, and some fun twists in the personal life of The Spirit’s former flame Ellen. I think what I like most about this issue is that these characters are really starting to develop. In the first issue, I complained that there was a little too much stereotypical 1940's language, and it made the characters hard to connect with. Thankfully, said dialogue has been dialled back significantly for the second issue, and as a consequence the main cast of this book feel far more real and unique. My growing connection to the characters in The Spirit has done a lot to make me feel more invested in the story, and I’m now at a point where I’m fascinated to see where it will go next.
A big complaint I saw about the first issue of this series is that, considering the book is called The Spirit, the titular character only appeared very briefly. If you found that frustrating then be warned, The Spirit isn’t around for long in this second issue either. However, his appearance in this issue is slightly longer and far more fun than the short-lived cameo he had in the first. Additionally, I found that I was fine with not seeing the Spirit very much in this issue, as the story has developed to a point where I can understand why Wagner would want to keep him benched until later down the line. While the somewhat wobbly first issue made it seem like this book would need The Spirit left, right and centre in order to survive, the second issue makes it clear that the supporting cast can carry this book just fine by themselves.
Another thing I continue to love about this book is the fantastic artwork by Dan Schkade and Brennan Wagner; it’s full of energy and charm and I really can’t get enough of it. It’s a perfect fit for the story being told here, and seems to have only gotten stronger since the first issue. It’s the little details that make this art so strong, with the characters myriad of facial expressions and the detailed backgrounds really bringing The Spirit’s world to life.
I really wasn’t sold by the first issue of The Spirit. However, with this second issue I’ve fallen in love with the book’s many fantastic characters and its intriguing and mysterious story that continues to develop. If you too were unimpressed by the first issue, I implore you to give this series another chance as it is with this issue that the book really hits its stride and becomes a must-read.