Story: Matt Wagner
Art: Dan Schkade
Colors: Brennan Wagner
What They Say:
Our intrepid detectives finally admit that only one member of The Spirit’s infamous Rogues Gallery could have had any chance of defeating their masked mentor. Their investigation ultimately brings them head-to-head with our hero’s deadliest and most relentless foe, The Octopus-a confrontation that could very well cost them their lives!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The return of The Spirit led to an interesting bit of backstory with how it all happened and while there are mysteries still to be had there the execution was spot on. Admittedly, I was quite enjoying the book without the title character since he introduces his own particular kind of imprint obviously on the tone and atmosphere of the book. Exploring how people were handling things without him and the long term ramifications was interesting, especially since it nudged Strunk and White up a bit in the food chain as they’re taking on work themselves. Seeing how people move on after awhile offers up its own opportunities for progress in a book like this, especially one where it’s had as many stories as it has had.
With his return he’s still doing his best to keep low and under the radar so he can figure out what really happened to him. It’s not a bad setup to work with and it sets a solid investigative tone about it. We do get to see briefly how others such as Dolan and his daughter are handling the news and it has a great old school kind of feel to how she busts in the door talking about it loudly when it should be a secret. For the Spirit, however, he’s ready to get into the dark places of the city again in order to figure out what it is that Strunk and White know. It’s a really nice sequence where he gets to put some good praise their way as he retraces their steps while also calling out their strengths and weaknesses. It helps to show once again how the pair have improved and taken the lead on this and it certainly impresses him in his own way.
The Spirit’s story does eventually cross with Strunk and White, though he takes a detour or two first to figure out where the Octopus is since he knows they have likely gotten close to finding him. So close, in fact, that they did find him and are now dangling above their death. There’s a simple but effective old timey plan in play here for the Octopus and what he’s trying to accomplish and the arrival of the Spirit naturally threatens that. What’s effective about it is that he really plays it to the hilt in a great way, so much so that I could see it on the big screen chewing up the scenery, while also just the visuals for it all as his face is shadowed the whole time. Schkade really and truly captures the look of this property in a way that connects for me unlike past incarnations and I just fall in love more and more each time I read a new installment and soak up the details, the flow of it and just the nature of the layouts and placement of action and characters.
The series looks like it’s close to wrapping up its first arc and it’s hitting some good points here with the way it’s unfolding. Bigger stories are percolating in the background, The Spirit is back, and we get to see the forward progress of other characters in the series. This installment lets the Octopus take center stage for a good chunk of it and that has a whole lot going for it in a way that’s hard to describe. One of the draws for the book continues to be the way Wagner just captures the dialogue of the time and these kinds of stories so well and coupling that with the rich artwork from Schkade takes it up several notches from there. Great stuff all around.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: November 25th, 2015