Lack of Christmas Spirit (Or, I'd rather bitch about a good comic than watch It's a Wonderful Life)

My biggest (and most current) comics purchase in recent weeks was issue one of the Darwyn Cooke Spirit... relaunch? It wasn't a revamp or reimagining or even a requickening. I was really looking forward to this one, especially after really enjoying Cooke and Jeph Loeb's fun Spirit/Batman team up comic. I was at one point leary of anyone reviving Eisner's signature adventure comics creation, even a creator I admire as much as Darwyn Cooke, but that team up one shot and getting Absolute New Frontier pretty much assuaged my discomfort on that end.

So, I was really suprised that the first issue underwhelmed me as much as it did.

It looked gorgeous, of course. That's always a given with Cooke, J. Bone, and Dave Stewart onboard. The panel to panel story telling was impeccable, which it had to be, following in Einser's footsteps, without shamelessly aping him. And it was a nice, light, done in one story, which I'm all for.

But... But! I just couldn't help but be underwhelmed. This book had two strikes against it in that regard; two of my favorite comics ever are Eisner's Spirit work and this creative team's New Frontier (I do think that Stewart and Bone deserve to be considered in the creative process of both books). So I expected the moon and got... a well crafted, self contained hostage rescue story with gorgeous art. A thoroughly good comic by any measure. That should be enough, right?

Well, no. Not when I feel genuinely that Cooke could have done better, I don't think. And yet, I'm still committed to following it in monthly format. The only other excellent comic I've had that kind of reaction to would be All Star Superman, which I'm often underwhelmed by on first reading, but still eagerly anticipate every time it shows up on the shipping list (what can I say? The first issue of their New X-Men run blew my mind, since all I had to compare it to was the Claremont/Bob Harras template.)

I end up liking Morrison and Quitely's collaboration a lot more on reflection. That didn't happen with Cooke's first issue of the Spirit. It's a heart vs. head thing; on a technical level, I thought it was wonderful, but I can't help but feel like it was a dissapointment. The most telling thing that illustrates my feelings on the first issue is my reaction to the next issue blurb on the DC hype-o-rama page; "P'Gell's in the next one. That should be good." I even thought in italics like that. My feelings on the book were closer to Jog's or Jeff's than Joe's, and that really bums me out. Even more than my seasonal depression has.

On that cheery note, let me once again wish you a Merry Christmas. I'd say Happy Holidays, but I don't want Bill O'Reilly to boycott the blog.

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