"The Medical Murders"
I have been a huge fan of Darwyn Cooke's run on The Spirit. He did an outstanding job capturing the essence of Will Eisner's character, the humor, the drama and totally revitalized it for a more modern audience. Cooke has such an appreciation for the characters that he involves himself in that it is tough to really find any flaws in his work. Cooke's take on the Spirit was fantastic. Hell, he should be in charge of a Spirit animated series, and even the film. I fear what Frank Miller is going to do to the character, especially if it looks almost completely like 300 and Sin City. I was wary of picking up the latest issue of The Spirit since Cooke's name is off of it and every issue of this run without his name on it hasn't been as great. Sergio Aragones and Mike Evanier take over scripting duties and to be honest, this issue isn't too bad.
Aragones and Evanier try to keep Cooke's style in tact: a specific crime is committed and this issue becomes an episode of the mystery being solved. The formula works, and it works pretty well here. The story is simple and basic, and the story essentially unfolds like an episode of Law & Order or Cold Case. The basic plot is the real highlight of this issue, and it's fairly simple to figure out and easy to follow. While some of the dialogue is pretty good and advances the story as a whole, there are some lines of really cheesy dialogue that almost try too hard to be funny. These lines are just small jokes and quips more in tune to a 14 or 15 year old than the average demographic of this book. Aside from that, Aragones and Evanier do a great job using dialogue to capture the basic essence of the characters involved.
To be honest, I'm not really a fan of the way Commissioner Dolan was portrayed in this issue. I understand he's supposed to be a bit bumbling when compared to the Spirit, but he's depicted as a total moron in this issue. Compared to the way Cooke portrayed him, it's a little bothersome to see Dolan interrogating a 93 year old and an 86 year old as murder suspects. Just because their fingerprints show up at the scene of the crime doesn't mean they are involved. It's a little off that the Spirit is the only one who connects the dots. I understand the comedic value of what Aragones and Evanier are doing, but the overall tone of this series shouldn't be totally comedic. With villains like the Octopus running rampant in Central City, I think Dolan would be a little wiser than interrogate two nursing home residents. I will admit the scene when he goes to the nursing home to find the two "suspects" is absolutely perfect and hilarious, but the fact he actually arrests them is a bit too over the top and silly.
The Spirit is portrayed quite well and fits his part perfectly in the story, as does Ebony White. The actual set-up and investigation is fun to watch unfold. The actual method of stopping the criminal is pretty well done, albeit a bit cliché. I did find it a little bit too convenient that the Spirit is able to do the math that an old rowing team and a murder on a lake are somehow connected based on a Google search. Alas, this device serves its purpose for the overall advancement of the plot, and it does work well.
Mike Ploog's artwork is pretty well done; it remains fairly consistent throughout the entire issue and actually does a decent job capturing an Eisner-like style that fits this title. While it's fairly easy to compare the writing to Cooke's, the style of art is very different than Cooke's and it's unique in its own way.
The future of this title without Darwyn Cooke at the helm is off to a decent start. I am still personally a little wary of how it will go, but so far it's not terrible. Aragones and Evanier seem to have a good grasp on the Eisner classic and do have the potential to keep the same quality that Darwyn Cooke brought to the title.
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