Solo #5 (2005)

To me, The most exciting news to come out of the San Diego Comicon is the news that Darwyn Cooke is going to be doing a new ongoing Spirit comic for DC Comics. The quality of the Spirit, of course, goes without saying for any true comics fan. And having such a comic be done by an artist of the caliber of Darwyn Cooke is doubly exciting, since Cooke is one of the finest creatoirs doing comics today.
 
Cooke, of course, was the driving force behind the outstanding New Frontier mini-series that came out last year, along side several other interesting projects. Cooke has always displayed a terrific reverance for the past. He stands on the soldiers of giants and glories on their achievements.
 
The most recent comic created by Cooke is the wonderful fifth issue of Solo. Solo is a comic from DC that spotlights the work of a specific artist. There have been issues devoted to terrific creators like Paul Pope, Tim Sale and Howard Chaykin. Cooke’s issue shows why he’s clearly in the same league as these cartoonists.
 
In Solo #5, Cooke is set free to play with characters and formats, colors and stories, He creates a charming framing sequence that is colorful and intimate, and has a cute two-page section of jokes and pin-ups. He also plays with different genres and styles. There’s a wonderful autobiographical story, done in black and white and subdued colors, telling the story of how a very young Darwyn Cooke became inspired to become an artist. The story, "World’s Window", ends with a charmingly quiet sequence that does a great job of displaying the connection between the child and adult Cooke.
 
"Everyday Madness" is a cute and cartoony piece about a man in love with his vacuum cleaner. Here Cooke uses a very animated style to convey a light and silly tale. He follows it with a dark and spooky tale of the Question, full of collage and dark shadows and a spooky style. If it seems a bit inconclusive and obscure, that still fits the story.
 
The bes example of Cooke standing on the shoulders of giants is "Deja Vu", a tale of the Batman that’s a sequel to a ’70s story by Steve Englehart and Sal Amendola that’s long been seen as one of the finest Batman stories ever. Cooke effortlessly invokes the mood of the original story and filters it through his own viewpoint. It’s a wonderfully dark and spooky tale, terrifically done.
 
One of the things that made the Spirit such a great strip was that Will Eisner could use the Spirit in virtually any type of story. Based on this issue of Solo, Cooke looks to be able follow in Eisner’s footsteps. There’s no finer compliment I can give Cooke.
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