Review: Spencer and Locke #2

Issue two of this “buddy cop” book from Action Lab kicks into the action with very little preamble.  Locke interrogates a suspect to learn the whereabouts of Sophie Jenkins’ little girl who is possibly a witness to her mom’s murder.  The trail takes Locke into some unpleasant memories, which in turn, serve to introduce a femme fatale of sorts, in the shape of his evil baby-sitter Ramona.  Still, the intoxication of Ramona doesn’t stop our hero, even if she somehow manages to incapacitate Spencer for a while.

Looking through this book I came across the usual “Any likeness to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental”.  It’s almost a shame that this statement doesn’t apply to comic characters as yet again we move into Calvin and Hobbes territory.  Ok Ramona from Rosalyn is a bit of a reach, yet both were thorns in Locke and Calvin’s respective sides.  Still, for those in the know, there are other more obvious nods; the inclusion of Convict Ball (never play the same way twice) almost screams for a score of oggeyboogie to 1 from Calvin Ball and of course there is the cart chase and is that Mr Bun? At least Spencer is a better driver than Hobbes.

David Pepose writing is a blend of what has gone before, with the Calvin and Hobbes references and a mix of new almost extrapolated elements.  Locke is an old school gumshoe of a detective.  His monologue giving the readers a slice of his outlook also goes to show how the various environs and actions impact on him.  Spencer is the thoughtful of the two, less impetuous but still no less vital to Locke’s psyche. It’s obvious where Pepose’s influences lay, yet he works hard to not show them in every hand.  For example, nothing in this book goes “boink”.  The main challenge therefore is for Pepose to write true to his leanings yet not in a way that will totally alienate other fans of said influences.  For the most part he succeeds, with each throw-back bring a smile rather than a shake of the head.

Jorge Santiago Jr. continues with a mix of art styles.  Firstly there is the present where Locke has a square jaw, Spencer is square-shouldered and the action moves with a great deal of aplomb.  There is also the throwback stuff, which again shows considerable likeness to Calvin.  I would assume that this is on purpose to help sell the idea of the comparisons between the two.  Whichever way you look at it, the art works well, conveying the various emotional points on show, from vulnerability, to the distaste of the Red Rose club to the resignation of having to deal with someone who Locke hates.  All pretty heavy stuff in a story about a cop and his imaginary partner.  Jasen Smith colors the book with bold dark colors, which accentuates the darkness of the story.

The key to this book is to enjoy the  homages and try not to think too much about the “how does it work?”  True, it may be that in fact, adult Locke is as much a figment of young Locke imagination as Spencer is.  Adult Spencer could be a form of PTSD, his missing eye alluding to the fact that Locke himself has “turned a blind eye” to his past troubles.  Or it could just be a fun way to pay respect to Bill Watterson’s fantastic creations and universe of yesteryear.  That said, I wholly expect Moe (or some allusion to him), to be the big bad!

Writing – 4 Stars
Art – 4 Stars
Colors – 4 Stars

(W) David Pepose (A) Jorge Santiago Jr. (CA) Maan House


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