- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: DC Comics; First Edition edition (November 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1401207553
- ISBN-13: 978-1401207557
- Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.4 x 10.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #283,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Best of the Spirit Paperback – November 1, 2005
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From School Library Journal
Grade 6 Up–This reproduction of a classic goes back to the heyday of comics, and it's full of complex characters, plot twists, and classic storytelling. While this comic never obtained the status of some of the publisher's series like Batman, it is no doubt excellent in every way and will keep the interest of any comic-book readers who give it a try. Typical of DC comics, the illustrations are dark and full of energy, perfectly complementing the text. Its only real drawback is that the art looks dated, which will turn off some readers who want a fresher look.–Scott La Counte, Anaheim Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Balk at acquiring DC's $50-per-tome series reprinting all of The Spirit because, well, you've just never read the strip? Then this paperback showcasing the strip's essence in 22 vintage stories is your book. The earliest 2, "The Origin of the Spirit" (1940) and "Silk Satin" (1941), respectively introducing the hero and a recurring character, aren't as visually adventurous as Eisner's work after his World War II hiatus from The Spirit. Still, they already demonstrate two of Eisner's strengths in the skewed perspective and the bold, anti-naturalistic color juxtapositions of virtually every panel. In the 20 postwar stories, playing with perspective is subordinated to point of view, and expressionistic lighting justifies the clashing hues. If the changes dissipate the low-rent-cubist elan of the early stories, Eisner compensates with special effects--panels in monochrome and dichrome, special styles of panel framing, visually bracketing one stream of action within another, photo backdrops--and seldom uses any one device throughout the story. Not as easy to see but no less virtuosic than the artwork is The Spirit's complex tone as a piece of pop art that indulges and satirizes the improbabilities of crime comics but doesn't countenance any carping about the heroic and social virtues its protagonist exemplifies. Maybe you do need that big, pricey series. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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You can see the skill level in drawing and inking develop through the years plus the influence of "political correctness" as the Spirit's sidekick early on was a very stylized "StepandFetchet" with giant red lips and pretty horrible English. Later issues the sidekick is white and buck toothed....and still obnoxious. The character names remind me of Al Capp's variety used in the "Lil' Abner" strips....Sand Sarief for example.
If you enjoy comics, graphic novels (ala Frank Miller, Robert Kirkman) then check out the "daddy" of them all..the Spirit.
The Spirit is really Denny Colt, a criminologist and private detective, who is exposed to a chemical that makes him appear dead. He gets better but maintains the ruse that he died, using his guise as the Spirit to fight crime. He is hardly a typical superhero character: for one thing, his disguise is merely a mask over the eyes; otherwise, he goes around in suit, tie and fedora. Furthermore, he as often loses his fights as he wins them.
In fact, in many of the stories, the Spirit is almost a peripheral character, with the focus on other characters that get involved in crimes; the Spirit just seems to come in to wrap things up. What makes the Spirit stories magical, however, is that Eisner seemed unconstrained by the limitation of the comics genre. In the period he wrote The Spirit (principally the decade or so after WWII), many comics were very formulaic; with The Spirit, you never knew what you would get, only that it would be good.
At least one of the stories in this story is really science fiction, while another is a Christmas tale and still another takes the form of a children's tale. While there is a lot of humor (often at the Spirit's expense), there are also nasty villains and beautiful femme fatales (most notably Silk Satin who has three appearances and Sand Serif who is in the only two-part story in this collection).
Yes, if you compare The Spirit to today's comics, it would be rather tame, but in the context of its time, it was cutting edge stuff. And even today, it is still both wonderful to look at and to read. If you're a comics fan, this is a collection well worth picking up.
I purchased this "Best Of..." collection to see for myself why THE SPIRIT was so celebrated. The book is great. Each story is a mere seven pages long, but each story is filled with mystery and suspense. The artwork is terrific. It has style! I love the cover artwork for each story. It incorporates the words "The Spirit" into an image that sets the tone for the pages ahead. Eisner uses the panels not only to advance the plot, but to create a mood. Many of the narratives have a sort of "Twilight Zone", Rod Serling feel.
The stories in this collection are thoroughly enjoyable, even after sixty years. The stories aren't too dark or mature-themed, but there are gunshots and fatalities. As I write this, Frank Miller's movie has not yet been released, so I cannot compare it with its source work. But where the film seems to have a colorless, Sin City-like quality, the comics are very colorful. There are dramatic shadows, yes, but it's not a black-and-white book.
I encourage any curious readers like myself to check out this inexpensive "Best Of..." and discover THE SPIRIT for themselves. This sampler left me wanting to read even more of the adventures of The Spirit!