cover image The Spirit, Vol. 1

The Spirit, Vol. 1

Darwyn Cooke, Jeph Loeb, . . DC Comics, $24.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-4012-1461-6

Cooke's delicious reinvention of the Golden Age hero created by Will Eisner brings the elegant crime fighter into the present era while still retaining a decidedly retro look. Beginning with the Batman/Spirit “Crime Convention,” the story moves through a handful of episodes that balance noir with cheeky humor, slowly dropping bits of an origin story. A kidnapped TV news reporter uses her cellphone to broadcast her rescue; a femme fatale from the Spirit's past exacts revenge on the man who killed her husband; a madman tries to poison the city's water supply. The standout is “Media Man,” in which an unscrupulous marketer appropriates the Spirit's image to sell canned beans, and an even more unscrupulous villain tries to use those beans to get kids hooked on meth. Glancing references are made to larger story elements, like a criminal network called the Octagon and a man from Spirit's past who died but didn't stay dead. The visuals are an addictive blend of old-school color melodrama and lean, muscular lines; the credit spreads are particularly clever in their integration of the book's title into the scenery. (Oct.)