SPENCER AND LOCKE #2 by David Pepose and Jorge Santiago, Jr.
SPENCER AND LOCKE #2 is an entertaining and mind-bending homage to CALVIN AND HOBBES that explores the dark nature of childhood.
92 %
Imagination Runs Wild
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At first glance, SPENCER AND LOCKE is merely a violent CALVIN AND HOBBES parody. Detective Locke solves crimes with the help of Spencer, an imaginary blue panther. However, this series is so much more poignant. SPENCER AND LOCKE #2 is a multi-layered detective story that is simultaneously haunting and hilarious. In this issue, we explore both the answers to a murder mystery and the source of Locke’s broken psyche. This comic is written by David Pepose and penciled by Jorge Santiago Jr. SPENCER AND LOCKE #2 succeeds because it skillfully juxtaposes the idyllic childhood fantasy of CALVIN AND HOBBES against the dark realities of growing up in a broken home.

READ: Here’s our SPENCER AND LOCKE #1 Review: A Detective, A Panther, and A Poignant Crime Thriller! 

Back in Time

Image courtesy of Action Lab.

In SPENCER AND LOCKE #2, Detective Locke continues his investigation into the murder of his childhood friend. A series of clues leads Locke to the Red Rose nightclub. The club’s owner, Ramona Sinclair, is a grim figure from Locke’s youth. This blast from the past awakens memories of Locke’s disturbed childhood. The actual detective story takes a backseat to Locke’s character exploration. Since the detective story is typical fair, Locke’s character is allowed to breathe. Pepose focuses on Locke’s violent, investigative behavior and mood swings rather than the minutia of the case. The mob torture and car chase scenes are particularly engrossing. It is a delight to watch the playful young Locke transform into a violent adult who is an agent of chaos.

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Who is Locke?

Image courtesy of Action Lab.

Locke’s flashbacks manifest as CALVIN AND HOBBES-style comic strips. Each of these sequences harkens back to a dark revelation from Locke’s past. Pepose does a phenomenal job of pairing light comic strip humor with disturbing imagery. While young Locke is just as precocious and smart-alecky as Calvin, yet the world around him is much bleaker. These scenes show Spencer’s evolution from childhood imaginary friend to a necessary coping mechanism. As Locke transforms from an innocent, playful child into a brooding broken detective, Spencer transforms too. SPENCER AND LOCKE #2 illustrates how these childhood events reverberate into his current broken state.

READ: Interested in exploring the idea of childhood in comics? Here’s Family Narrative: The Familial Structure in Comics!

One strange aspect of SPENCER AND LOCKE #2 is the lack of focus on Spencer. The big blue panther’s dialogue is sparse, and he rarely appears at the forefront of the scenes. These choices serve to indicate that Spencer is always a figure in the back of Locke’s mind. However, I would have liked a little more insight into what aspects of Locke’s psyche Spencer represents. Hopefully, this will be explored in future issues.

Switching up Styles

Image courtesy of Action Lab.

The story is bolstered by Santiago’s impressive art. His ability to recreate CALVIN AND HOBBES style strips is uncanny. Beyond just the character designs, the scenery and attention to detail are exceptional. The thick outlines, flat backgrounds, and scratchy shadows are all distinctly CALVIN AND HOBBES-esque. This art style made the gritty content of the panels even more shocking. The strange pairing between childish visuals and adult content adds a hefty dose of humor. SPENCER AND LOCKE #2 is equal parts spooky and funny.

Image courtesy of Action Lab.

While the art in the rest of the comic is more realistic, Santiago never shies away from adding in some comic strip techniques. The characters sometimes feature big rounded eyes and goofy facial expressions that are more reminiscent of cartoons. These stylistic choices really give the impression that we are seeing the world through Locke’s eyes. Locke is still attempting to rectify his childhood perceptions with his current state, which is evident with these stylistic shifts. This type of artwork heightens the emotional stakes of the entire comic. Locke thinks that Spencer is the only aspect of his imagination altering his perception, but the art indicates otherwise.

Final Thoughts on SPENCER AND LOCKE #2

Image courtesy of Action Lab.

SPENCER AND LOCKE #2 is a solid issue that is low on plot but huge on character. Looking back into Locke’s childhood is a wild and engrossing ride. This issue is a must for fans of CALVIN AND HOBBES or great comics in general.

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