In a surprising coup, Dynamite Entertainment announced that it has acquired the rights to Will Eisner's legendary domino-masked crimefighter The Spirit. The rights were previously held by DC Comics, which published both a comprehensive collection of the original strips and new adventures from creators such as Mark Evanier, Sergio Aragones, Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone.

Dynamite plans to publish new stories starring the character, but has not yet announced creative teams or indicated when these comics might see print. Whether Dynamite has the rights to any archive material or plans to do anything with it remains to be seen. Dynamite Entertainment publisher and CEO Nick Barrucci called the acquisition, "a lifelong dream come true."

The Spirit is one of Will Eisner's best-known creations -- a late-era pulp vigilante who fought larger-than-life criminals and slinky femme fatales in Central City in newspaper strips from 1940 until 1952. The character was created and originated by Eisner, but contributors to the strip also included Joe Kubert, Lou Fine, Jack Cole, Wally Wood, Jules Feiffer, and many others.

The rights to the character have jumped around a few times over the years, with reprints or new material appearing at Harvey Comics in the 1960s, Warren in the 1970s, and Kitchen Sink Press in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. DC began publishing its Spirit Archives in 2000, and completed the run with volume 26 in 2009.

The Spirit is a prestigious get for Dynamite Entertainment, and a good fit for its stable of pulp heroes, including fellow domino mask aficionados The Phantom and The Green Hornet, and public domain characters like Zorro, Tarzan, and Red Sonja. Any of these characters may now cross paths with The Spirit -- and thanks to Dynamite's acquisition of most of the Chaos Comics stable in 2010, we may even see a Spirit/Purgatori crossover.

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