The Spirit: Quality Comics
Created by Will Eisner
NAME + ALIASES:
FIRST APPEARANCE: The Spirit Section, 2 June 1940
APPEARANCES, QUALITY COMICS:
- The Spirit Section (2 June 1940–5 Oct. 1952)
- Police Comics #11–87 (September 1942–May 1949) • The Spirit 22 issues (1944–August 1950)
- The Spirit, 22 issues (1944-50)
- The Spirit, 2 issues (1963, I.W. Publishing)
...this is early draft text. I'll be putting my pre-cut text from the book's cutting room floor in here, plus writing up his post-Quality appearances as I'm able.
The Spirit was by most measures Quality's most successful costumed hero. In both the number of appearances and the span of time, he outstripped all other heroes and created an indelible impression on a generation of Sunday comics readers. This character was the cornerstone of The Spirit Section, a special comic book sized insert which was syndicated by the Register and Tribune Syndicate. At its height, it appeared in ?? papers. It's first installment began on June 2, 1940, and its last was Oct. 5, 1952. Those adventures were reprinted in Quality's Police Comics from 1942-1949, and in his own solo title from 1940-1950. Police Comics did not reprint every strip, but the character often received second billing on the cover (after Plastic Man, natch). In addition, The Spirit daily newspaper strip ran ??. Will Eisner has always owned the Spirit, per his original agreement with Busy Arnold and the Register and Tribune. His estate still manages the reprinting and licensing of the character. DC Comics began publishing original adventures in 2007.
Because there has been so much research devoted to this character, this volume will not attempt a full profile. Instead, what follows is a historical guide to the character and a list of resources for further reading.
For all its current fanfare, the strip began rather unexceptionally. By Eisner's own admission, he improved greatly when he returned from the Army. Yet to be seen were Eisner's signature splash pages. didn't begin pushing the boundaries of the medium until..
Denny Colt was a criminologist and detective on the x City police force. He worked closely with Commissioner Dolan, especially on the night that he died. That night, he tracked the escapee, Dr. Cobra to a Chinatown hideout, where the two tussled. Shots were fired and a vat of chemicals washed over Colt. By the time Dolan arrived with officers, Colt was dead and shipped off to the morgue. The next thing the Dolan saw was a shadowed figure in his home—Colt had returned to life and was seeking Dr. Cobra's head! He told Dolan to call him the Spirit. After the mystery man departed, Dolan was left with the unshakable hunch that he had in fact seen Denny Colt. He hopped a cab (driven by Ebony White, named in next story) to Wildwood Cemetery to see for himself. He got his proof and Colt revealed himself; he wore no mask. Elsewhere, Cobra's henchmen delivered the news as well. This was a confirmation for Dr. Cobra. It seems the chemical in that vat had been designed with restorative qulities. When the Spirit flushed Cobra into the open, Dolan shot him. Afterwards, Denny decided to take up permanent residence at Wildwood Cemetery. His calling card? A tiny tombstone. (#11)
Slot Gorgan was acquitted thanks to his mouthpiece, the Black Queen. The Spirit (now masked) was there to welcome them home. When they attempted to rub him out, the Spirit turned the tables on them. Ebony White was there to drive them and the Spirit declared him his official chauffeur. The Spirit's world, he decided they would have a retrial. He also kidnapped the judge and district attorney! There he tricked Gorgan into confessing while blindfolded, and the Spirit had recorded it on the dictaphone. (#12)
The joker debuted a bit before, Spring 1940