6. The Spirit
OK – we are now entering the ‘obvious choice’ zone of my list. This is where I reveal that I am nothing more than a clichéd fanboy. If you have followed my postings at all over the past few years, these won’t come as a big surprise to you. Unlike my selection #1 through #5, I became familiar with the Spirit as a more ‘mature’ comic book fan. I had seen the old Warren mags and various Overstreet cover galleries as a kid and always though he looked appealing, but never got into him. That’s probably a good thing, as I think the Spirit can be best appreciated after getting a little comic book experience under your belt.I’ve now got just about every Warren and Kitchen Sink Spirit mag published, as well as a growing number of Archive Editions and the Harvey Giants from the 60s. I will buy just about anything with the Spirit’s mug on it. Heck I’d even buy a Spirit mug if I could find one.
Denny Colt is a bit like the Unknown Soldier in that he is an everyman as well as man without an identity. He is famous in his world and yet relatively anonymous. He works best when he take a hands-off approach to crimefighting and let the bad guys start in-fighting and pretty much brings themselves to justice. It’s a very different technique when compared to most Golden Age crimefighters, and when mixed with the Spirit’s great sense of humour – shows just how far ahead of the curve Eisner & Co. were in the 40s. It was its own genre – with elements of every single genre thrown into the mix. In the end, it’s the humour that gets me – whether the Spirit is pulling a prank or on the butte end of a joke, it keeps the strip fresh and lively.
The Spirit will likely live forever in comics because so many stories can be told with him as the protagonist. He’s been on the high seas and in space and it all seems to make sense. My fingers are crossed for more and more quality Spirit-related projects in the future. The good news is that so many creators respect and admire Eisner, that I am sure that they will try to maintain all of the super duper goodness that makes the Spirit the Spirit.