Monday, February 25, 2008

Like a bullet list (without the bullets)

The deadline for the Beard Hunter: Stroke of Evil contest is coming up fast, so be sure to get your entries in by midnight tomorrow (Tuesday, Feb. 26) if you want a chance at scoring a copy of the Doom Patrol Vol. 4: Musclebound trade. You can get the details here.

So, The Spirit #14? Not great. This was disappointing for a couple of reasons, not least of which is that the lackluster issue confirmed the lowered expectations of a lot of readers.

Darwyn Cooke reinvigorated Will Eisner's most iconic creation with his outstanding scripts and art, with both somehow updating the character and his cast while keeping a definite pulp vibe. His 12-issue run was simply a superior bit of storytelling, and seemed to pull off the impossible by tapping into everything that people love about The Spirit and still putting his personal stamp on it.

When it was announced the creative team behind Groo (Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones), along with Eisner protégé Mike Ploog, would be taking over the title ... well, reaction was mixed. Which sums up the first issue from the new guys pretty well. The pacing seemed stilted, and characterization and dialogue often came across as surprisingly tone-deaf. And the art, while certainly being evocative of Eisner's work itself, was solid but questionable when it came to character design. Overall, it was a discouraging issue.

Some quick questions that occurred to me while reading The Spirit #14:

Why is Dolan suddenly an attention-hungry buffoon? He may look like a walking cartoon, but he's never been stupid.

Why does Ebony (now "E.B" for some reason) have buck teeth? At the least, it seems like an unfortunate throwback.

Also, why is Ebony so preoccupied with eating? This feels like the writers are trying to inject humor into the story, but at the expense of making the character a little moronic. It's a bad move.

It's not fair to compare one group of creator's work with another's, but even if it wasn't in the shadow of Cooke's run this issue would still suffer. I might — might — pick up #15 to see if there's any improvement, but if there isn't I'll be dropping The Spirit like a hot rock.

Speaking of Will Eisner, I read The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of The Elders of Zion over the weekend, and it's what you'd expect from someone who's credited with basically inventing the graphic novel form. At turns frightening, anger-inducing and, ultimately, sad but hopeful, The Plot is fitting as a final legacy for the comics legend (the book was his last before his death in 2005).

Detailing the real-life history of a false manifesto of a completely fabricated "secret Jewish campaign" to rule the world, the book is pure Eisner in terms of an economical writing style and some truly beautiful artwork. In all honestly, this book should be on school curricula across the country, if not around the world, for its enlightening look at one of the undying demons of racism. If you haven't already, go read it.

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