The Spirit: Book One - Darwyn Cooke 

DC Comics

It's official: Anything Darwyn Cooke touches turns to gold. From "Catwoman's Big Score" to "The New Frontier," writer/illustrator Cooke revives established properties by bringing retro smarts. His latest effort is "The Spirit," the Forties blue-masked detective created by the late Will Eisner. It's a character that few would be able to handle without messing it up, but Cooke is the perfect man for the job.

This hardback collects the first six issues of DC's new "The Spirit" title, as well as the one-shot "Batman/The Spirit" special. Like Eisner's originals, they're crime stories told with an often outrageous sense of humor, featuring a hero who charms because he's sometimes clumsy and wholly fallible.

Here, detective Denny Colt becomes the trench-coated Spirit to save a female newscaster from kidnappers, investigate a foreign prince and thwart an underground organization making unauthorized Spirit-brand pork and beans.

While remaining true to the character and tone, Cooke is able to comment slyly on Eisner's racial stereotyping at the time and get more mileage out of the plots. As good as the original "Spirit" was, Eisner had a tough time making self-containted stories fit within seven-page Sunday supplements.

In the world of "The Spirit," the action is quick, the women are gorgeous and crime doesn't pay. We're lucky to have Cooke at the helm.

"?Rod Lott

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