Review: The Spirit #12

The Spirit #12 cover
Cover by Will Eisner

The Spirit #12
Published by Warren and © Will Eisner, February 1976

Writer: Will Eisner
Artist: Eisner

Editor’s note: While Will Eisner is solely credited for each of the stories reprinted in this issue, Spirit sections often included contributions from others. For more information, see Cat Yronwode’s The Spirt Checklist at the archived Wildwood Cemetery: The Spirit Database.

Title: “The Jewel”
Synopsis: Transporting the Jewel of Gizeh, the Spirit winds up stranded with Sand Saref, Mr. Carrion and Colonel Ark.

Review: Featuring stories published long before the Bronze Age, this Warren reprint magazine from the 1970s is an excellent introduction to Will Eisner’s classic Spirit sections. The stories – like this stranded-island tale  – don’t always match the innovation of the art, but Eisner’s visual storytelling remains shockingly ahead of its time.


Title: “Carrion”
Synopsis: Mr. Carrion and the Spirit work to escape a deserted island – until the old buzzard shows his true colors!

Review: This continuation of the previous installment’s locked-room – or, in this case, stranded-island – mystery offers little in the way of surprise.


Title: “… R … E … S … C … U … E …”
Synopsis: The Spirit and Sand Saref finally return to Central City, and the Jewel of Gizeh is safe. Or is it?

Review: The Jewel of Gizeh caper comes to a close, but some missing chapters make this reprint sequence a little choppy.


Title: “Pancho de Bool”
Synopsis: The murder of a young matador brings the Spirit to Mexico, where he gets some help from a talking bull.

Review: Eisner has a wonderful knack for mixing farcical elements into the Spirit’s usually noir mix. This one is good fun.


Title: “The Christmas Spirit”
Synopsis: Santa Claus, a blind child and a little Christmas spirit team to melt the heart of a hardened convict.

Review: Though visually striking, this Christmas-themed story – in which the Spirit hardly appears – lacks requisite subtlety.


Title: “Snow”
Synopsis: Snow blankets Central City, but it’s ice – as in diamonds – that all the thieves are after.

Review: Muddled science and visual gags that don’t quite work make this the weakest tale of this issue.


Title: “Tooty Compte”
Synopsis: A young loser discovers he has the power to kill with a phrase – and that power goes to his head.

Review: Despite some awfully convenient coincidences, this story is the kind of strong, simple parable that makes The Spirit shine.


Title: “Big Arky”
Synopsis: A two-bit crook’s master plan takes him from Central City to Egypt, where things start to unravel.

Review: The most noir of this issues stories, “Big Arky” is another decent, cautionary fable plagued by convenient coincidences.


Title: “The Christmas Spirit: A Fable”
Synopsis: Despite an appearance by Santa, it’s political ambassadors who have to bring peace on Earth this Christmas.

Review: This Christmas tale features some top-shelf cartooning, but its confusing script is hard to follow.

Grade (for the entire issue): B+

Cool factor: Will Eisner’s The Spirit is always cool, but these Warren reprints are extra cool. The brightly colored covers and gray-toned interiors add to these visually striking gems.
Not-so-cool factor: What’s up with the two missing chapters of the Jewel of Gizeh arc?

Character quotable: “On Christmas, another spirit fights crime in its own way!!” – Denny Colt, the Spirit

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on Dec. 16, 2009.

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