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‘Spencer & Locke #2:’ Comic Book Review

That cat has seen some sh%t.

I thought I was ready for whatever an adult Calvin and Hobbes could throw at me.  Not only was I epically wrong, but – in one moment – this has become one of the most intriguing books that I’ve read in a very long time.  There’s a curveball waiting for you in this issue that will put a lot of things into a crisper-than-you-hoped-for perspective, and it has made me eager to see where this thing goes.  There’s no safe place from David Pepose’s script; you’re sucked in from the first page, and the action really kicks off from there.  The second issue of a new title is where you get to see the creative team cut loose a bit, having gotten the heavy exposition lifting out of the way, and boy howdy are they going to town with this one.

Locke is a fascinating character, and we get to see much more of what would make a man keep his imaginary panther with him.  There’s suddenly a real person here, where the line between fantasy and realism gets blurred a bit, and the ties between the present and the past become much more intertwined.  It’s a fun twist of storytelling where we’re getting two stories; the first will catch up to begin the second that’s already been going.  I like that the little pieces can fall into place while we explore this brutal world with humor and poise.  The hard-bitten detective is anything but a cliché for this story. We get to see where his scars are and the wounds that caused them.  The first page is where the big shocker is, but it’s revisited halfway through with one helluva psychological twist.  It’s frankly awesome, and you’re gonna love it.

I think that the whole art team deserves high praise.  To flawlessly blend their noirish style with that of one of the most recognizable strips in all of comics is incredible to see, and the single-panel switches are jaw-dropping in their effectiveness.  The slightly cartoonish palette plays against the hard-hitting action and makes for a piece that’s very unique.  Each character has to be designed in each style, with Spencer having the most that are all fluid and yet instantly recognizable.  The action is the right mix between cool maneuvers and breathless sequences, but at no point does it supersede the driving force of the narrative. Rather, it’s all in service to it.  This is such a good combination of talent with a solid vision that it should be studied by anyone who loves collaborative art.

This series has been surprising and inventive already. There are only two more issues, but I’m already hoping that this team can expand on it and give us more of this intense world.  While there’s an obvious homage to Bill Watterson, this is a world wholly unto its own, and one you should definitely check out.

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