The cover of Francesco Francavilla’s says it all, “A Mystery Tale”, and that’s exactly what is established in the first chapter of The Corpse-Maker. The story opens with a seemingly unspectacular death in Central City on a dreary night. A lost relative with a shrouded criminal history comes back into the life of the loyal and trusting sidekick, Eb. Mysterious figures, criminals in suits, a more sinister plot looming in the background. Francavilla isn’t reinventing Will Eisner’s wheel. In stead, he’s laying out dependable and nostalgic crime noir in a manner that is predictable, but proven. Don’t mistake this for being lazy writing, because it’s far from it. It’s obvious that Francavilla has studied the genre’s predecessors such as Eisner and The Green Hornet creator, Fran Striker. There are also elements of contemporary Noir masters such a Brubaker. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to discover that Francesco is a fan of “Sleeper.”
Francavilla does, however, stamp his signature on this title in the way that only he can. Rounded, scratchy pencils lay out angled points of view. No edges too sharp nor line too crisp. Swift action sequences are insinuated by prominent sound effects and kinetic lighting, while his signature muted orange and blue hues spring out heavily inked panels. In an almost Millar-esque style, Francavilla uses negative contrasting to play with the coloration and structure of his imagery. Fans of his work on Marvel Comic’s Moon Knight will be delighted to see yet another Taxi Cab in his work, which is quickly becoming synonymous with Francovilla’s name and style.
It’s unknown at this time whether The Spirit is meant to be a limited series or an on going, but what is for sure is that this is definitely a notable moment in the legacy of the title, which Francesco Francavilla both respects and evolves in his work. The brilliant covers alone are worth the cover price of $3.99 from Dynamite Comics. While I respect all comic creators, I hold a special reverence for those that are multi-talented. Francesco finds himself amongst individuals such as Jeff Lemire, Francis Manapul, and Todd McFarlane who expertly put the weight of the entirety of their craft squarely on their shoulders. When such a task is undertook, the success or failure of the work is solely attributed to the creator. For Francesco Francavilla, The Spirit in The Corpse-Makers Chapter 1, is a resounding success.