Dynamite’s Spirit series by Matt Wagner and Dan Schkade continues its hot streak with this fifth issue, the first in which the titular character takes the spotlight. Indeed, after months of being in whereabouts unknown, The Spirit has returned and in this instalment shows his expertise as a detective by tracking down his allies Ebony and Sammy who have fallen into the clutches of The Octopus – one of The Spirit’s most fearsome villains. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, this is the first Spirit series I’ve ever read and so seeing the vigilante in action is a wholly new experience for me – fortunately, this issue was a lot of fun and so I can understand why this character has endured the test of time. Watching The Spirit piece together the mystery of Sammy and Ebony’s disappearance while striking fear into the hearts of his city’s low-level crooks was very entertaining, especially when so stylishly depicted by Dan Schkade. I’ve said it many times now, but Schkade really is perfectly suited to this book – his charismatic character designs and vibrant environments are a joy to behold, and I continue to appreciate all the little touches Schkade includes. For example, having the title of the book constructed from objects in the opening panels is very creative and I imagine a deceivingly difficult task. The fact that an effort is made to do it each and every issue seems to me a real sign that the people behind this book have a great respect for the character and Will Eisner’s original stories.
Meanwhile, the panel layouts and designs in this book are also very effective at capturing the reader’s attention, with a standout in this issue being a page in which a moving train in the foreground has a direct impact on the dialogue in the background. It’s tough to explain the effect but rest assured it’s clever and inventive, and helps make the reader feel as if they’re a part of this story – not just a disconnected audience watching from afar. Brennan Wagner’s colors are also a vital component in giving this world such a memorable personality and he should also be praised for his work here.
Matt Wagner’s mystery surrounding The Spirit’s disappearance, one that has been unfolding since this series began, seems to be reaching its final stages. I for one cannot wait to find out what exactly happened, and I really hope that this fantastic creative team is kept on for more stories in the future. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you need to be reading The Spirit.
The Spirit #5 Writer: Matt Wagner Artist: Dan Schkade Colorist: Brennan Wagner Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Release Date: 11/25/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital