‘Spencer & Locke #1:’ Comic Book Review

What do you think I am, crazy?  You’ll shut off the flashlight when I’m halfway across!

Perception defines your reality.  We all have thoughts about how the world works, about how we interact with people, and how the world ought to treat us.  We also have notions of how the physical world binds us, and that’s why so many people were taken by the Matrix films; they showed us a world where you could change those fundamental realities simply by changing your perspective. So, what is the nature of perspective?  If you have an imaginary friend as a child, what is it about your change in perspective that allows that friend to fade away. (Damn you, Inside Out! Damn you to the feels hell!)  What if that perspective never changed?  This is the starting-off point for Spencer & Locke (directly influenced by Bill Watterson‘s Calvin and Hobbes), where a cop has his imaginary buddy along for the investigative ride.

Writer David Pepose sets readers up with an otherwise normal crime drama, with the catch being that one of the investigative partners isn’t really there.  He begins with strip-like panels that seem pulled from a darker Sunday newspaper that lead us into our main story.  Familiar elements from the inspiring series crop up from time to time, and anyone who has loved a certain stuffed tiger will find themselves moved and fully engaged with this interesting piece.  The dialogue is solid throughout, and the switches between the main body of the book and the Wattersonian strips make perfect sense.  The last few pages are a bit of a left turn but set up the remaining series with a bit of a head-scratcher that nevertheless has me very intrigued as to where things are going from here.  Pepose’s script certainly has a plan that makes me excited to see what else he has in store.

Jorge Santiago Jr has a difficult job.  How does one mesh one of the most cherished comics of all time with a gritty crime drama that also takes on the discussion of mental illness?  I’m not entirely sure what the formula is, but it works to a staggering degree.  Though familiar, there’s no doubting the uniqueness of this hybrid world.  It’s hard not to crack a smile when one of these interludes pops up, all of the heart and mischief riding through clear as day, even though it’s been appropriated by another story.  The colors Jasen Smith lays over the book give it a tone that is as dark and moody as the original was light and mirthful.  It’s a helluva thing to see, and I promise that it’s worth checking out.

I’m always worried when I encounter a book that relies too much on nostalgia, but Spencer & Locke is one that proves itself early on to not just be riding on the coattails of greatness, but adding another dimension to make something wholly unique and awesome.  I’m all in on seeing where this creative team takes things next, and you ought to join me for the ride.

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