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The Spirit made a one-off appearance in a new story in which newspaper ? (Answer at bottom of the page)

Dolan introduces the 1946 origin story

Like many comic book characters, The Spirit has an origin story - and like many other comic book heroes, every time his origin has been told over the years, something new had been added.

The very first Spirit section, published on 2 June 1940 introduces Denny Colt and shows how he becomes The Spirit.

Colt taunting Dolan about Dr Cobra

After taunting Police Commissioner Dolan, Colt manages to find the notorious Dr Cobra. Becoming involved in a fight with an unnamed henchman, Colt is drowsed in some chemicals that Cobra was working on and he collapses. His lifeless body is found by Dolan and the coroner pronounces Denny Colt as dead - his body is buried (no embalming thankfully!) at Wildwood Cemetery.

The Spirit meets Dolan

Rising from the grave the following day, Colt now calls himself The Spirit, and after a brief meeting with taxi driver Ebony White and Commissioner Dolan, apprehends Dr Cobra.

In this story, Colt does not wear his famous domino mask, but he did have a habit of handing out miniature tombstones with his alter ego's name on them.

The next full length section devoted to telling the origin appeared on 12 January, 1946, a few weeks after Eisner had returned to the strip after the war. The tale is very much the same as previously, except that it is told from Dolan's viewpoint.

The Spirit meets Dolan, but Dolan knows who it is

Colt has his mask in the story and Dolan quizzes Ebony White why is driving a taxi at such a young age (a point never raised in the 1940 story) - Ebony's response is that he is a child prodigy!

Interestingly, cat yronwode in her notes to a reprinting of this story mentions it as 'a remarkably botched job' and that it 'contradicts the story as related in the first issue'. This tale does not overtly contradict anything - it does give a bigger role to Ebony and Dolan, but apart from that a few minor cosmetic changes (Cobra's hair changing colour, for example) the story is the same. However, perhaps cat was referring to the third origin story, which DOES alter some of the history.

The first page of the 1966 origin

The third origin tale was published in 1966 - almost 14 years after The Spirit had ended it's weekly run. With the resurgence in popularity of comic books (due in no small part to the Batman television series), Harvey Comics released a reprint of Spirit sections, along with one new story by Eisner.

In this new origin tale, Dr Cobra is planning to take over the city with the help of The Octopus - this character had not been introduced at the time of the previous two origin stories. Cobra's henchmen gets the name of Granch and after being shot by Dr Cobra joins Denny Colt in the pool of chemicals. The main change from the previous origin tales is that a heartbroken Ellen Dolan appears - in the original series she did not appear until after the origin story and did not know Colt before his appearance as The Spirit.

The most recent origin story appeared in the first issue of 'The Spirit: The New Adventures', by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons. In this issue the story begins with Cobra telling his cellmate, The Octopus, of what happened.

Cobra falls for Fleur Du Mal

As shown above, Cobra is in love with Fleur Du Mal who first jokingly suggests that he poisons the city. After learning of Cobra's intention to carry out the plan for real, she flees to Colt and informs him of Cobra's intention. Enraged when he learns of what Fleur has done, Cobra shoots her and is then found by Colt in the laboratory, where the origin proceeds as before (mainly off panel).

The story continues, this time using elements from the Harvey Comic origin and also brings in the second Spirit story (published 9 June, 1940), which introduces Ellen Dolan. Ellen and her fiancee, Homer Creap are captured by Cobra whilst visiting her father Commissioner Dolan at police headquarters. Taken to Cobra's laboratory they meet his henchmen, Granch. The Spirit finds them and reapprehends Cobra, but not before Granch is shot and falls into the same pool of chemicals that Colt himself was lying in (days?) earlier. It is revealed by the end of the story that these chemicals had caused Granch to survive the shooting, but at a cost...

It is well worth looking out for a copy of this issue as Moore and Gibbons weave together a fine tale which incorporates all the previous origin stories.


THE OCTOPUS

A young Ocotopus at work...

Although the Batmania craze lasted for a couple of years in the 1960s, Harvey Comics were able to release two issues of reprints of The Spirit - each issue also featured a new tale by Eisner. As described above, the first issue contained an origin for The Spirit, the second issue contained an all-new story, called 'The Life Story of The Octopus'.

His first death

This tells of 'Zitzbath Zark', a young man who seems to have been killed when trying to blow up the city's power plant. However, a month later Zark's mother receives a package - it contains some jewellery along with a note: 'From "Z" with love'. She throws the package out, shouting that: "He probably stole them. He should burn", not realising that she is being watched across the street by her son!

In the hideout of The Octopus

After the above scene, time moves onto the present day (in this case, 1966), and Zark's mother has found The Spirit and asks him for help in finding her son. It is revealed that The Octopus is alive and well and planning a major robbery - at this stage one of his men decides to leave.

The Spirit is at police headquarters when a man asks to see him - it is the man who left The Octopus earlier. With The Spirit is Zark's mother, who immediately shoots the man when he tries to speak - she tells The Spirit that it is her son. However, with his last breath the man tells The Spirit that in fact it is The Octopus who is disguised as his own mother!

Finding himself cornered, The Octopus jumps into a blazing incinerator - after the incinerator has been cooled down no trace of The Octopus is found...

This story is the first time that any personal history is given to The Spirit's arch nemesis... although he had been in the series since 1946 nothing had been revealed about how The Octopus came to be until this story.

A copy of this story can be viewed by clicking here

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Trivia Answer: The New York Herald Tribune (For more information on the story, click here)