Review – The Spirit: The Corpse-Makers #1 (Dynamite)

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Click to enlarge

Publisher: Dynamite Comics
Writer/Artist: Francesco Francavilla
Release Date: 1st February 2017

One of the longest-serving crimefighters in the history of comics, Will Eisner’s The Spirit has been on the job for in excess of seventy-five years, and it’s a true testament to the appeal of the character that creators are still managing to find new ways to interpret the iconic masked hero.

This latest series, written and illustrated by the supremely talented Francesco Francavilla, sees The Spirit investigating a series of unexplained disappearances and deaths among the homeless population of Central City.  Or rather it doesn’t, as for the bulk of this first issue it’s not entirely clear that these disappearances are anything other than unfortunate accidents and runaways.

Therein lies the mystery, although as you might expect, there’s far more going on than meets the eye here, with several moments during this first issue clearly suggesting there’s something decidedly sinister going on in the darker parts of the city.

As anyone with eyes should probably expect by now, Francavilla’s visuals are absolutely stunning, with creative layouts, a fantastic use of block shadows and some wonderfully evocative colours on display, with the bulk of the issue bathed in a haze of blues, punctuated by the occasional reds and yellows of headlights of street lamps.  Borderless panels bleed into one another, and his characters are all suitably expressive without ever feeling over-exaggerated.

That said, while Francavilla is undoubtedly best known as an artist, he also displays a firm grasp of narrative flow as he brings some wonderfully pulp sensibilities to the tale.  And, while this first issue is primarily made up of storyline hooks to draw the reader in, there’s still more than enough substance here to get your teeth into, even if the title character himself is barely featured at all — for the time being, at least.

An intriguing and suitably mysterious start to this new mini-series then, and with the latter portion of the issue focusing on introducing Vince, the cousin of Spirit sidekick Ebony White, it’s refreshing that Francavilla doesn’t feel the need to re-introduce the title character yet again, letting the story itself do the bulk of the heavy lifting.

Visually stunning and with a genuinely intriguing hook, the Corpse-Makers is yet another thrilling addition to the storied history of this iconic character.

Rating: 4/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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