Publisher: Kitchen Sink Pr; 1st edition (1998)
Softcover, 288 pages
The Spirit, as we all remember, was a comic insert into newspapers which ran from the late 1930s until the early 1950s. While Will Eisner is given sole credit for the writing and art, but it is well known he had a team of excellent artists and a few writers to touch up his work and help him along the way. Not to say the man wasn’t extremely talented, but sole credit is a little much. This becomes apparent in the last three stories when it is obvious the artists are completely different.
For anyone who is an aficionado of comics from the Golden Age of Comics, the Spirit immediately stands out. Not just because of the superior art, the willingness to try new things and play with point-of-view, but the more adult nature of some of the stories. This is because, being in a newspaper, the audience was wider-ranged and more adult. Comics were power fantasies for pre-pubescent kids and written as such. The Spirit rose above it with style.
The Spirit was a masked vigilante who fights crime with the blessing of the city's police commissioner Dolan, an old friend. Establishing a base underneath his own erroneous tombstone, he funds his adventures with an inheritance from his late father and the rewards for capturing villains. One of his recurring villains was P’gell, the ultimate femme fatale. She had a bad tendency of seducing men who then die quickly, while she gathers the inheritance.
Her interactions with the Spirit aren't always antagonistic. In fact, they are uneasy comrades more times than they are enemies. When the Spirit appears, P’gell shows annoyance that this pest has arrived again to ruin her plans. While the Spirit never quite gets enough on P’gell to arrest her completely. There interplay is almost cat-and-mouse, except one party (P’gell) has no interest in the game.
This volume publishes the most of the Spirit of stories around P’gell (if you couldn’t tell from the title), 17 stories. Ironically her first appearance is left out of this collection as the publishers included it in the first volume of The Spirit Casebook. It also includes outtakes from 2 stories "The Portier Fortune", and "Competition", where the stories were "rerun" in the strip with new openings and endings. The book also contains P'Gell's cameos in the comic as well ("Caramba!" looks intriguing enough that it should have been reprinted entirely).
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.