The Spirit #12: Sand Seref

Too well drawn to be bad

Spirit Darwyn Cooke
Click image to enlarge

The Spirit #12

DC Comics, January 2008 Cover Date
$2.99 cover price
Art and Story by Darwyn Cooke. Inks by J. Bone.

This issue is the last one from Darwyn Cooke, the man who basically reworked Will Eisner's golden age hero The Spirit, simultaneously updating the characters world and cast and also trying to stay true to Eisner's conception. There have been many good issues in the 12-issue run (I'm not counting the very silly mess that was penned by Jeph Loeb, the Batman and Spirit Teamup from 2006), and I get the feeling this is the one Cooke has tried hardest to achieve something, and unfortunately it is the one the comes closest in many superficial ways, but also shoots way off the mark when it comes to staying true to Eisner. Maybe it was all intended that way by Cooke, since it is a story completely at home with other tales written by Cooke involving other characters, but would not fit in with Eisner's noir ideas and moral view.

Cooke presents the "back-story" to Sand Seref, making her a sympathetic victim who has gone astray into crime. The product of a rough childhood and bitter, bad luck, Cooke uses classic Eisner page designs to present the flashbacks, and not the Eisner art of the original Spirit, but from Eisner's later years when he no longer was using just the usual grid-style comic book page that has existed since the 1930s. They're very well done imitations and for a reader familiar with Eisner's "Contract with God" and later style, it's a nostalgic and sentimental homage.

In "explaining" Sand Seref, throwing in extenuating circumstances to soften up one of Eisner's quintessential 'bad women," Cooke makes her just one more victim with bad wiring. Is there ever a female villain in a Darwyn Cooke tale that is just outright evil by choice? They're always the puppets of some psychological conditioning. And they're not really all that evil, either, as there is some other villain provided to play the foil so that the sympathy can run all the greater towards a misunderstood woman who has an 'evil' attitude and the trappings of a traditional villainess, but not the deeds. Are these girls just too beautifully drawn to actually be bad people?

These complaints aside, Cooke has been the most successful in bringing Eisner's Spirit to life again.

Sand Serif Darwyn Cooke
Sand Seref: Center spread from the Spirit #12.

Click to Enlarge


Darwyn Cooke

The Spirit

The Spirit

Batman + Spirit One Shot = It's A Mad, Mad, Mad World, January 2007

The Spirit #1, "a reborn Spirit" by Darwyn Cooke, Feb 2007

The Spirit #9, Words and more words, Oct 2007

The Spirit #12 Sand Seref - Too well drawn to be bad, Jan 2008

The Spirit #13 "Holiday Special", Feb 2008

Spirit Artwork Pages

Batman and The Spirit One Shot - Joker and Harley Quinn

Batman and The Spirit One Shot - Darwyn Cooke

Batman and the Spirit One Shot - Joker and Harley Quinn

Batman and The Spirit One Shot - Commissioner Gordan and P'Gell?

Spirit #1: It's hard getting re-born

Spirit #1: Ginger Ice

Spirit #1: Ebony

Spirit #6 Cover art by Cooke, J.Bone

Spirit #7 page by Jordi Bernet, DC Comics, 2007

Spirit #7 Page by Kyle Baker "The Spirit", DC Comics

Spirit #9 - Zombie - Page 20

Spirit #9 - Zombie - Page 6

Spirit #12 - 2-page Spread by Darwyn Cooke

Spirit #13 Ty Templeton art

Spirit #13 by Eduardo Risso

Spirit #15 Cover art by Bruce Timm cover

Spirit #15 : Art by Paul Smith A

Spirit #15 : Art by Paul Smith B

Spirit #16 - Justiniano art Spirit Artwork - Page 16

Spirit #16 - Justiniano art Spirit Artwork - Page 11

Spirit #16 - Justiniano art Spirit Artwork - Page 6

Spirit #17 Cover art by Paul Smith, DC Comics 2008

Spirit #26 cover Art by Brian Bolland

Original page Feb 7, 2008 | Updated Dec 2011

Lynda Carter - Wonder Woman

Lynda Carter - Wonder Woman