Writer: David Pepose Art: Jorge Santiago, Jr. Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment
WHAT IS IT?
A PTSD-tinged noir mystery with strong dystopian Sunday funny roots.
Imagine Chinatown meets Calvin & Hobbes if the main character had a lot of unresolved issues and imagined his childhood friend/stuffed animal was his partner.
You can read the review for the previous issues here.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
This is it! The final issue of the second arc.
Roach Riley is ready to burn the city to the ground. Can Locke stop him? Can he keep his daughter, Hero, safe? And can Melinda Mercury get to the bottom of why Roach is doing all this in the first place?
All will be revealed! But will everything be resolved?
Over the past 3 issues, we've seen Roach Riley survive so much. We open here with the story that finally makes him crack. Santiago, Jr., actually gives the panel a cracking effect, contrasted with the panel before it for maximum effect.
Colin Bell's fire sound effects are 🔥🔥🔥
Roach makes a comment at one point like he can see Spencer, which makes me wonder if each person can see the other's "imaginary friend"/PTSD persona, which would be an interesting touch.
As always, Pepose gives special attention to re-introducing all the necessary characters for new readers. However, it's no natural, you probably won't even realize he's doing it.
The character re-intro thing is a classic comics tactic. Another one of those is giving characters alliterative names. I just realized with Roach Riley and Melinda Mercury that Pepose has done that here, too.
I want to credit Santiago, Jr., with the sound effects that are more incorporated into the art (correct me if I am wrong!), but I love how we see a panel where there's a big "BLAM" sound effect, but we only have to see the "B" and "L" and the visual context to know what it says. It's just smart thinking, with the writing and art working together so well and not pulling double-duty.
Personal favorites: A dog in an army hat. Ending a relationship as a greater metaphor for things between two characters being FUBAR. Locke's Bane-like "You merely adopted the darkness"-style line.
Jorge Santiago, Jr., uses grids masterfully to set a pace, build tension, and create symmetry on the page, especially in his 12-panel grid this issue. He's truly a talented storyteller and a it's pleasure to see his work.
There's a scene where half of Locke's face is shown with Roach's characteristics and, with the context of the scene, it's so powerful. It also may have implications for the next arc of the title!
Spencer's issue #1 character arc get addressed – something I've been wondering about for the past couple issues.
Pepose ends each volume with a closing line, like it's the final scene of a blockbuster film. It feels like the perfect end to the story, here, especially with the "Eye of the Tiger" beer in the scene, as a wink-and-a-nod to Spencer. At least, for now!
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
The guy who I thought was Roach Riley last issue is actually a different person. I think it might make more sense or be less confusing reading the series as a trade. That being said, once you read this issue, things will make more sense. If you were confused, like I (apparently) was, you won't be after reading this.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Spencer & Locke is an immensely enjoyable and well made detective story with a fresh, new spin. Highly polished and disruptive to the genre and medium, fans of crime noir or innovative storytelling must pick this up.
This final issue sticks the landing a second time for a more-than-satisfying end to the story's second arc. And yet, you'll still be on the edge of your seat, waiting to find out what happens in Spencer & Locke 3.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Spencer & Locke, Vol. 1 by David Pepose & Jorge Santiago, Jr.
Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Sin City by Frank Miller
If you like the art:
Curse of the Eel by Jorge Santiago, Jr.
Criminal by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
Deadbeat by Jed McPherson & Chris Shehan
ABOUT THE CREATORS
David Pepose – Writer
Multitalented: Currently developing properties for film, TV & comics out in LA
Has also worked for CBS, Netflix, Universal Studios and DC Comics
Originally from St. Louis, where your favorite Comic Book Yeti lives
Jorge Santiago, Jr. – Artist
Has a career in graphic design
Has been "training in the comics arts" since he was 17
Jasen Smith – Colorist
Multitalented: Has also been a newspaper writer, cartoonist, voice jockey and a freelance graphic designer
Has been working as a full-time colorist since 2013
Colin Bell – Letterer
Multitalented: Has also written a couple comics, one of which (Dungeon Fun) won a SICBA award
Outlander: Lives in Scotland
Nicole D'Andria – Editor
Multitalented: Has adapted one of my daughter's favorite shows, Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir, to comics
Also is marketing director and submissions editor for Action Lab Entertainment, and writes articles for Comic Frontline
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