Issue #30 of "The Spirit," DC Comics' modern take on Will Eisner's classic masked crimefighter, will feature story and art by Michael Avon Oeming, co-creator of Icon's "Powers" with Brian Michael Bendis. On sale in June and sporting a Kevin Nowlan cover, "The Spirit" #30 is a one-off tale that finds the Spirit caught in the middle of a gang war, and it's down to Denny Colt to save his beloved city.
CBR News caught up with Oeming to discuss the issue, following in Eisner's footsteps, and his support for the Hero Initiative, the non-profit group dedicated to helping comics creators in financial or medical need.
"The city is caught in a war between the Yakuza and Triads, it's tearing the city apart and the Spirit has to find a peace," Oeming told CBR, explaining the premise of his "The Spirit" #30 story. "Not to get all Zen, but it's a story about balance. Crime/Cops, the law/vigilante etc. There's lots to play on in the world of the Spirit."
Oeming is perhaps best known for his work on "Powers" with Brian Michael Bendis and other independent and creator-owned series like "Mice Templar," but he's produced a fair amount of work with Marvel on series such as "Thor" and "Omega Flight." The Spirit, as an established, classic character, may be seen to fit somewhere in the middle of these two tracks. "I prefer working on creator-owned stuff of my own, obviously," Oeming said. "I think if you count all the titles I've worked on, more than half are my own, even if they were low key titles like '86 Voltz' or 'SIX.'"
Oeming continued, "Getting to write and draw the Spirit made it feel like a creator-owned book, but I was very aware of who's work this really was -- Mr. Eisner's. I got to meet him the year 'Powers' won an Eisner Award, that was just amazing."
Despite his preference for creator-owned work, Oeming is not shrugging off the chance to work on popular characters. "There are characters out there I love, like the Spirit, that I know I can have some fun with," he said. "I'd love to draw the Punisher some day and get back to drawing some Thor... but that won't be for awhile yet."
Working on "The Spirit" also gave Oeming the opportunity to experiment with some Eisnerian artistic devices, like playing with panel borders and filling the gutters. "I loved doing that," Oeming said. "It was great for me because I've been so conservative in my storytelling when it comes to panel and panel boarders. Doing 'The Spirit' really opened me up on that. Also working with Taki, she's challenged me some on my very forward storytelling. I'm not tossing around the camera or doing crazy stuff, just stretching my approach and it's very refreshing."
Continuing his ongoing support for the Hero Initiative, Oeming will be donating some of his Spirit artwork to raise money for the charity. "I usually do a lot of conventions and I always have a Hero Initiative jar with me, or arm wrestle to raise money and attention, anything for Hero," Oeming explained. "But this year I'm taking a break from the shows and I'm only doing a few. FX in Florida and Baltimore are the only ones this year on the map for sure. So I'm going to donate the promotional image I did for the Spirit and maybe a page if they have the right venue to auction it off at. I'm sure [Hero Initiative head] Jim McLauchlin will come up with a good plan. It's been an honor to work on 'The Spirit,' and I can say it's my best work yet."
Beyond "The Spirit" #30, Michael Avon Oeming's latest project, "Rapture" from Dark Horse (co-created by Taki Soma), will debut in May, and he is also currently working on new "Powers" and "Mice Templar" projects for the summer.
"The Spirit" #30 goes on sale June 17 from DC Comics.