Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Number 747

The Spirit's thrice-told tale

Seventy years ago today, June 2, 1940, the Spirit first appeared in his Sunday Comic Book Section. Creator Will Eisner, and his publisher/partner, Everett "Busy" Arnold, had the brainstorm to combine the traditional Sunday funnies with the comic book, and have it distributed in newspapers.

Like most comic book characters whose origins need to be periodically revisited, each origin story brings something new to the legend. In this case I've included the first Spirit episode, scanned from the DC trade paperback, The Best Of the Spirit. The origin was retold in January, 1946, when Eisner, still fresh from his military service, was giving his readers a postwar noir look. This version was reprinted by Denis Kitchen in 1983.

Finally, twenty years later, in 1966, the Spirit was revived for two giant Harvey comics, reprints of some of the best Spirit stories, and yet another new version of the origin.

All three origins have Commissioner Dolan, Denny Colt's "death," and the villain Dr. Cobra, but each tells a slightly different version of events.


nyrdyv said...

The nice think to consider when reading new versions of an origin story is to consider that is may be a retelling from the perspective of a different character in the setting. Each individual's observations, interpretation, and retelling will be different.


Steven G. Willis

Pappy said...

I agree, with reservations. The origin stories of some characters have been retold too many times, by too many writers. While they keep the core of the story, what they choose to emphasize can tell me more about the writer than the character.

These three Spirit stories were all done either by or under the direction of the creator, Will Eisner.

Unknown said...

I find it interesting that the third story emphasizes more thriller-like elements -- a race against time, etc. -- but also neatly ties up the villain's plot before The Spirit's resurrection.

Rafiq Raja said...

Thanks for sharing the version of Spirit Orgin, Pappy. Loved reading them.

Prof. Grewbeard said...

that's the spirit!...

Capitão Márvel said...

fascinating reading!
Thanks for sharing!