The Best of the Spirit

 BJ5N   (DC, 2005)

™ and ©1948 Will Eisner. Introduction ©2005 Neil Gaiman

Although often mistaken for just another masked crime fighter, The Spirit really owed more to the radio and B-movie incarnations of such characters as The Saint, Falcon, and Boston Blackie. Like them, he (almost) never worried about earning a living and had an antagonistic yet paternal relationship with an authority figure, a comic relief sidekick, and a steady girlfriend who wanted to be much more.

Will Eisner is lavishly (and rightly) praised for the stories included here, the one-off stories in which his hero retreated into the background, and the writer-artist could focus more on human drama and virtuoso storytelling. It almost goes without saying that, if you’ve never had the opportunity to read The Spirit before, you couldn’t ask for a better primer than this.

But some of Eisner’s best work on the series involved The Spirit and his supporting cast in multi-part stories, and, unfortunately, Dolan, Ellen, Ebony/Sammy, and his signature femmes fatales are almost entirely missing from this volume. Of course, that only gives DC all the more reason to release a Best of The Spirit Vol. 2.

— S. A. Bennett

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Cover Price: $14.99
NM Guide: $13.50
2 copies available from $12.30
ca. 2005Will Eisner, Neil GaimanWill Eisner