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When the Spirit saves a young comic book artist named Alabaster Cream from a pair of thugs, it's only the beginning of a night he'll never forget.

Four pages from The Spirit #14 )
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Eight Three pages from The Spirit Archives Volume 4, which is hundreds of pages long.

"A Dull Week" doesn't contain fun guest stars like Silk Satin or Sand Saref, but it does show Eisner's firm grasp on the form. All the storytelling elements he loved to play with are in fine form here, showing the comedic possibilities of the ensemble cast.

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This is from one of those massive hardcover archives, which are hundreds of pages, so hopefully it's okay.

Think of Silk Satin as an early version of Catwoman. She and the Spirit have the same kind of quasi-love affair, hampered by the fact that they're not on the same side of law and order. Although Satin later reformed and became an intelligence agent in WW2, Spirit was firmly (well, not firmly) with Ellen Dolan by then, so things never worked out. And in Darwyn Cooke's reboot, she's just an intelligence agent. That, coupled with Ellen Dolan being The Girl of the title, makes her a much flatter character than Eisner's version, IMHO. But hey, don't take my word for it, have some scans.

[identity profile]
Hey there. I'll still be posting here frequently, but I want to spend most of my time working on my own Retro-Scans, posting about pulps, old movies, various esoterica. Still, here's something about a TV-movie some of you may not have seen.

Quite a disappointment when I first saw it, this 1987 pilot looks better in retrospect, particularly after Frank Miller's recent theatrical feature. I couldn't talk myself into going to the mall to check out Miller's film. Maybe it deserved a fair chance -- I've always said not to judge a movie until you're on the way home from seeing it -- but it just looked so WRONG. And this means we're not likely to ever see a well-done new movie about the character. He's not like Superman or James Bond, who will always get another shot after a cinematic disaster.

a shadowy encounter in Dolan's office )

The 1987 SPIRIT was the pilot for a never-produced TV series based on Will Eisner' classic comic strip. As far as I can tell, it only aired once on an ABC late-night showing and isn't available on DVD, or at least I haven't seen it as such.. you'd think it would have been hustled out to store while Miller's version was in theatres. The TV-movie is frustrating in that it gets some much right, but presents it poorly. The casting is fine. Sam Jones was a big likeable goof we all remember from 1980's FLASH GORDON, not an actor that Turner Classic Movies is considering doing a month-long festival for, but competent enough and certainly visually right. Nana Visitor does well as Ellen Dolan; her fans from DEEP SPACE NINE might want to see this to check out her hot tub scene without a rubber snout. The actor playing Commissioner Dolan is fine, but P'Gell is portrayed as a bit too hardened and weathered to match my image. Then there's Eubie, a young black kid who takes the Spirit under his wing as much as the other way around. I'm sorry, he's not Ebony and there's really no justification for him here. As outlandish as Ebony was drawn and as exaggerated as his dialogue was, he was a young kid with heart. He cared for his friends, he had dreams and hopes and a wry sense of humor. If you can get past his appearance, Ebony was a great character. Eubie here is okay, but not the same character at all.

beefcake in tatters, tied up by a femme fatale.. yep, that's the Spirit all right )

I've figured out one of the things that I dislike about the flurry of super-hero TV-movies from the 1970s and 1980's.. they were nearly all filmed in Los Angeles, and comic book heroes mostly look naturally in New York City environment. The bright, almost oppressive sunlight exposes too much, takes away the mystery. Even scenes shot at night (or supposedly so) just don't have the same ambience. There are some nicely done sequences; Denny Colt lurching up all bullet-ridden from his supposed death looks all right, but mostly the colors are garish and unrealistic, the Wildwood Cemetery is so obviously a tiny set that it looks like a home video, and the main mystery is so unexciting that it's already fading from memory. Seeing the hero and villain fall into a giant cake will give an idea of the subtle approach used here.The best part is a brief montage when the Spirit first launches his crusade, punching out crooks to a snappy theme song that inexplicably throws in a few Van Halen-type riffs. Maybe if this had been sold as a series, some of the plots and themes of the Eisner stories would have been used, but as it stands, this is pretty much a disappointing misfire. Still, I'd buy a copy of it to replace my word-out faded VHS tape way before I'd put down money to try Frank Miller's version.

And for some comparison, a typically great Will Eisner page.. moody, atmospheric, well laid out and executed.

Black Alley )
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So, a quick refresher for those of you who weren't reading comics in the 1940s. The Spirit is the Spirit. Commissioner Dolan is his contact in the police force. Ellen Dolan is his daughter and the Spirit's girlfriend. However, as Everyone Is Straight For The Spirit, Ellen is frequently on the wrong end of a love triangle.

Also, bondage. )
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So we all know Samuel L. Jackson's Octopus was pretty gonzo. But he was not the lamest villain the Spirit's ever fought. Cooter was. In fact, Cooter might be the lamest villain ever to appear in any comic book. I guess not even Eisner can knock them all out of the park. So who was Cooter?

Warning: The racist caricatures of Ebony White and his supporting cast figure prominently into this story.

But it's---it's not a rock! )


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