Will Eisner’s The Spirit: The Corpse Makers Issues #1 through 3
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Writer, Artist, Colors & Letterer: Francesco Francavilla
Review by PeteR
As you can tell from the credits, Will Eisner’s The Spirit: The Corpse Makers is completely Francesco Francavilla’s baby. He writes it, draws it, colors it and even letters it. His obvious love for both Will Eisner and The Spirit permeates every page. In each issue he has a two page spread where the Spirit’s name is spelled out in the background utilizing a creative concept. He updates the portrayal of Ebony in a way that respects the character and the reader, which is a huge deal since Ebony White is Will Eisner’s biggest sin. Francavilla represents Commissioner Dolan’s resentment and competition of the Spirit’s interference, while still appreciating his assistance in solving crimes (long before Batman’s depiction of the love/hate relationship between a vigilante and the law was explored). There is rain and cityscapes. Francesco Francavilla successfully uses all of Will Eisner’s troupes. Yet somehow, whether deliberately or not he misses the target.
Someone is killing people who would not normally be missed off the streets of Central City. The murderer is using a syringe of curious yellow liquid to do the deed then delivering the bodies to a morgue with a corrupt attendant. Ebony’s cousin, Vince is involved in a bank robbery and falls victim to the perpetrator. Private investigator, Lisa Marlowe, working what she thought was a philandering husband job, finds herself inadvertently on the trail of the murders. The Spirit, tracking the same perpetrators to their hideout, opens the wrong door and is confronted by what appears to be a room full of angry zombies.
93% of the comics made by Francesco Francavilla I really enjoy. Francavilla’s heavy usage of blackness in his artwork dramatically depict ominous murkiness. Nights are dark blue and action is bright red. His take on Afterlife with Archie perfectly arranges the mood for a zombie apocalypse in Riverdale. The Black Beetle is everything you could ask for in a conceptual pulp comic book.
Why you should buy this book? The challenge with Will Eisner’s The Spirit: The Corpse Makers by Francesco Francavilla is right there, in the name. Francesco Francavilla’s plot of Will Eisner’s The Spirit: The Corpse Makers is more of a homage to the hard-boiled detective stories of the 1930’s than it is a Spirit story. He starts issue 2 with a quote from Raymond Chandler and issue 3 with a quote from Dashiell Hammett. All the nights are rainy and bleak. Family members are kidnapped by mysterious villains with sinister intents. Marlowe’s office door even has an eye in the logo.
Francavilla’s artwork is blocky and lacks Eisner’s eye for detail. There is no sense of Eisner’s whimsy or humor. In a number of Eisner’s Spirit stories, the Spirit himself is more an ancillary character than a main protagonist. That said, Will Eisner’s The Spirit: The Corpse Makers is a tale of the Spirit in name only.
If you are looking for a hard boiled, pulpy detective yarn, this comic works. If you are looking for Will Eisner’s Spirit, you are better off grabbing one of the 26 volumes from D.C. Comic’s archive series. I am going to continue buying Will Eisner’s The Spirit: The Corpse Makers but in my mind, I will be substituting to concept of Will Eisner’s Spirit with Jack Cole’s character, Midnight.