Matt Wagner and Dan Schkade’s series based on the classic Will Eisner creation continues to be an entertaining read, even if this third issue isn’t quite as impressive as the second. The series continues to unfold primarily from the perspective of the loveable investigators Ebony and Sammy as they continue their fruitless search for answers regarding the Spirit’s disappearance. While they seem to get no closer, we the audience do get an insight as to the character’s whereabouts as in the opening pages of this issue he finally re-emerges. Wagner has a solid grasp on his characters, giving each a distinctive personality while the artwork by Dan Schkade perfectly encapsulates the nostalgic feel of the story without looking at all dated. There’s a definite sense of fun with each and every issue of The Spirit, a mood which I feel is represented perfectly with this month’s final page reveal. Of course I won’t spoil said reveal for you but I had to mention it as it put a smile on my face – and what more could you ask for from a comic-book then that? Although, while this issue was enjoyable as I’ve already said it didn’t quite reach the heights of the second. Firstly, the book opens with a somewhat strange short story which seems to do nothing except serve as the means to an end of bringing The Spirit back from his exile. In this sense I suppose it does an adequate job, but I felt that the nine-page story could have easily been distilled to two or three pages, which then would have left more time to develop the stories of the main cast. This leaves me feeling like this issue didn’t accomplish as much as the second aside from The Spirit’s brief return, meaning most of the characters seem to be in much the same position at the end of this instalment as they were at the end of issue two.
This isn’t such a bad thing as I wouldn’t want Wagner to rush his way through this very promising story, but it does just mean that this issue doesn’t have quite as great an impact as the second. Still though, I do find myself fascinated by this story and look forward to the answers that issue four is likely to bring. Additionally, I’m enjoying being introduced to characters from The Spirit’s sizeable catalogue of villains. As I’ve said in previous reviews this series is my first exposure to the character, having never read any of Eisner’s stories nor have I seen the apparently terrible Frank Miller film. Wagner seems to be writing with people like me in mind, gradually pulling back the curtain to the world in which the Spirit lives and seemingly setting up future stories in the process.
This series stumbled out of the starting gate with a forgettable first issue, but just two months later the book has become one of my favourites on the stands. The Spirit boasts a fun tone, very memorable characters and some stylish art courtesy of Dan Schkade. Indeed, whether you’re a new reader or a veteran this book is definitely worth checking out and I hope Wagner stays on board for more stories once this initial arc wraps up.