Story: Matt Wagner
Art: Dan Schkade
Colors: Brennan Wagner
What They Say:
The narrative scene shifts to the South Seas as a native fisherman struggles to provide for his family…and ends up snaring the biggest catch of his life. Meanwhile, back in Central City, Ebony and Sammy’s search to uncover the cause of The Spirit’s disappearance leads them to confront one of his oldest and wiliest Femme Fatale foes. And Ellen’s distress over a certain proposal comes to a head as she’s confronted by an unexpected revelation.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
As The Spirit continues to move on as a series as a whole I find myself really looking forward to when I can sit down with a good chunk of issues and just enjoy the overall, larger, narrative that’s being established here. Bringing the title character back into play in a style like this is obviously a slow process yet it’s one that can yield great results for the patient reader. Particularly for those, like myself, that really wants to get immersed into the period and supporting characters as the subplots get set up. The Spirit has largely been talked about but not shown in the first two issues and that’s always a bit risky to do even when you know that he has to come back in some form to move things forward. How long can you get away with that before the reader gets frustrated? Particularly in a monthly serialized format.
With the third issue we get that question resolved as he finally surfaces here, albeit in a way I don’t think I expected. Bringing him back amid a seven or eight page storyline taking place in the South Seas where we’re focused on the lives a fishing community and a young man named Kabei isn’t what you’d expect. But getting to see some of the fallout of the World War II on the locals here, how it changed fishing and the reefs, and the struggles of those living there, well, it works very well and draws you in because Wagner and Schkade make you care – and quickly – through both the writing and the art. So when a really worn down and somewhat torn apart Spirit climbs out of the ocean, there’s a great sense that things are about start changing when it comes to the dynamic of the city. At least when he gets there.
Where this issue also did a lot of good work is in giving us a flashback sequence that really involves the Spirit but also Sand Seraf. With Strunk and White going to see her in prison to try and get clues about his disappearance, we get a look at their relationship through the last time she saw him, a time when she was double crossing Professor Pernicious in order to gain access to new technology they had just stolen. It’s a fun piece that shows us the Spirit in action for a bit and to see Sand Seraf with how she views him while also bringing in some really good material for her in prison. She’s certainly well set up in there overall, though it’s not exactly high society. Still, the dynamic between her and the detectives as they call in a favor for this meeting is pretty well done and adds more to the overall background for the Spirit but also the detectives and Seraf in an engaging way. World building through background.
The Spirit continues to be pretty much the best series I’m reading from Dynamite Entertainment these days. While I know I’d end up grading it higher in trade form because we’d have more of the larger storyline to talk about, don’t be dissuaded by the grades of the individual chapters. Each is really strongly put together with a lot of details in both writing and artwork to flesh out this time period, the characters, and the subplots that are moving along. This issue does some great things taking us out of the city for a bit and expanding our view while reinforcing the fallout from the war. Bringing our title character back in a stronger way is also welcome yet I also kind of wish we had one more installment of just Strunk and White on the job on their own. The book looks like at least some of its tone will change a bit going into the next issue but it was bound to shift once our title character returned to its pages in some form. This is definitely an exciting book that completely transports me back while still adhering to some of the strengths of modern comic storytelling.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: September 16th, 2015