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The Spirit Archives, Vol. 16 (Review/Retrospective)

We’re more than half-way through Will Eisner’s tenure on The Spirit, and I find myself struggling, just a bit, to come up with something novel to say about it. After all, I’ve gone on and on (and on and on) about how Eisner has handled the weekly strip for the bones of about 10,000 words at this point. As much as I like to examine each six-month period on its own terms and merits, there comes a point where I have to concede that this is just one giant project, and a lot of what I can say about it I have already said. Sure, there are some new themes and ideas, and Eisner always enjoys putting a new slant on old concepts, but I can’t help but feel that this extended bunch of reviews and retrospectives will wind up tripping over each other. (I say that as if they haven’t already.)

With that in mind, just because I might have a bit less to say about The Spirit Archives, Vol. 16 doesn’t mean that it isn’t a great collection of stories. We are, after all, in the middle of the most celebrated part of Eisner’s run. This collection is pretty consistently smart, funny and moving. Just because this reviewer is struggling not to cover old ground doesn’t mean that Eisner is any less of a master.

A web of deceit...

A web of deceit…

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The Spirit Archives, Vol. 14 (Review/Retrospective)

The Spirit Archives, Vol. 14 finds Will Eisner back in full swing. The Spirit is truly firing on all cylinders, after taking about a year just to get everything lined up after the creator returned from military service. The success of this volume isn’t so much that Eisner is doing anything especially new or innovative. Rather, it seems like The Spirit has made a note of the aspects of the strip that work and has decided to concentrate on those stronger elements. This six-month stretch on newspaper strips doesn’t necessarily contain a record-breaking number of stand-out stories, but there are far fewer duds that we’ve seen before. There’s still a couple of Ebony-centred stories, but they’re few and far between. The other annoying kid sidekicks are mostly demoted to black-and-white one-line “P.S.” strips at the bottom of the page, and don’t intrude on the narrative.

The Spirit Archives, Vol. 14 isn’t so much about doing things better, as doing them more consistently.

Getting into the Spirit of things…

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