A far cry from the PG-13 adventure awaiting moviegoers on Christmas, this interpretation of the Spirit reads a lot closer to the all-ages fare of comics from yesteryear. Aragones and Evanier offer up a story with some intrigue and a generous slice of adventuring, but for the most part the comic is very pasteurized and could easily feature any character.
The comic does little to introduce the drive behind any of the characters, placing a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of the reader. Most of the focus in this issue is on the surviving members of a platoon from the Vietnam War as they watch their numbers dwindle through a series of murders. This leads the Spirit to go to Cambodia, where the true antagonist is revealed, with minimal surprise to this reviewer.
The art is strong, clean, and crisp, very reminiscent of Val Semeiks in his early days on "The Demon", but with much less hellfire and brimstone. This makes me wonder what Semeiks is up to nowadays and whether or not he has been considered for a turn at the artboard on "The Spirit." Hardin does an admirable job with this issue and the various characters within. I'd like to see more from him. His work here is a nice tribute to Eisner, and fits the all ages feel to the story, but I would like to see him really cut loose on some capes and tights.
Paul Smith makes an unexpected and, unfortunately, rare appearance by providing the art on the cover of this issue, which represents a generic, yet engaging rendition of the Spirit with absolutely no relevance to the story within. Smith's style is a perfect fit for the character and the creative legacy the character has.
In all, this story could have easily featured Nightwing, Phantom Stranger, Bucky, or Spider-Man due to its formulaic prescription. I think if fans are leaving the theater to find Spirit comics, they would be better served by going to the source material (collected in DC Archives) rather than dipping into this monthly offering.
Maybe the feel of the book will change slightly under the pen of "The Spirit" movie producers Michael Uslan and F.J. DeSanto two issues from now.
(Dont' forget to check out the CBR Review of the movie, as well.)