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The Spirit. The Spirit was created by Will Eisner (Lady Luck, Mr. Mystic) and appeared in the comic strip “The Spirit” (1940-1952).

The Spirit is a Costumed Avenger. He used to be Denny Colt, a criminologist living in Central City. But during his first outing he is captured by the evil Dr. Cobra and put into suspended animation. He wakes up days later in Wildwood Cemetery. Colt realizes that everyone now thinks he is dead, and that he is able to fight crime without his loved ones being threatened. Colt puts on a domino mask and goes after criminals as the Spirit. The Spirit has no superpowers but is very tough and has a great deal of dogged determination.

He confronts a wide range of criminals, from the whimsical to the malevolent. Many of them are memorable Femmes Fatale, from the siren Lorelei Rox to Silk Satin, who eventually reforms and works as a spy for the British government, to weapons smuggler Sand Saref, to P’Gell, an internationally-wanted spy who becomes the Spirit’s Loving Enemy. The Spirit works with Police Commissioner Dolan. A black teenager, Ebony White, works as the Spirit’s chauffeur. The Spirit is in love with Dolan’s daughter, Ellen, who is aware of the Spirit’s secret.

* I'm including the Spirit comic strips in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because they very well-drawn, very well-written, a lot of fun to read, and historically important. Will Eisner was one of the most talented comic book/comic strip writer-artists who ever graced the comics medium, and the Spirit comic strips are his best sustained work. The art is sophisticated in conception and execution, the characters well-written, the art and writing combined at an unusually high level to create a singular, unified effect on the reader. Overall, the Spirit comic strip is one of the most enjoyable strips of the Golden Age to read, as well as one of the most intelligent. Historically the Spirit comic strips, which appeared in superhero comic books as well as in newspapers, were the first to convince readers that comic strips could actually be Art. The portrayal of Ebony White was progressive for its era but is properly seen as racist today (intent doesn't matter, effect does). Despite Ebony White, though, "The Spirit" is as good as it got for comic strips in the 1940s. 

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