Spencer & Locke #4
Writer: David Pepose
Artist: Jorge Santiago, Jr. 
Letterer: Colin Bell
Publisher: Action Lab Danger Zone

A review by Stephanie Pouliotte

Spencer & Locke #4 is the final installment of an unassuming homage that turned out to be a thrilling, heart-wrenching exploration of an imaginary boyhood friendship that grew in the brief respites of an abusive childhood. With so many loose threads to tie off, this was  certainly an ambitious issue. Locke may be steps away from closing the case of Sophie’s murder, but he’s still in desperate need of personal closure to escape his inner demons before they drive him over the edge, all while battling an entire crew of deadly criminals. And amidst all this chaos, a young girl’s life hangs in the balance.

Overall, the story was dense, the cartoonish flashbacks barely cutting the edge off the emotionally heavy moments. And even though we get some answers, they aren’t all entirely satisfying; the rushed ending almost necessitated another issue (and I’m all for that!). Pepose thankfully focuses on where the reader is the most emotionally invested, sacrificing depth on the throughline of Sophie’s murder and penning an issue that packed an adrenaline-filled punch to the gut. 

Pepose raises the stakes in the very first pages, setting an unyielding tempo that did not let up. Luckily, Santiago Jr rises to the occasion, and it’s thanks to his framing and layout that the reader has a chance to appreciate the story’s more poignant moments. My favourite of which is a scene-stealing moment between Spencer and Hero that embodies the sentiment of the entire series in just three panels. Meanwhile, Locke heads into this issue with a palpable martyr complex, as he barrels through the story like a man on a mission to a somewhat predictable climax. Though I did feel the denouement was tacked on, the final pages left the story open to new horizons.

Speaking of which, it was recently announced that Spencer & Locke has been optioned for a movie by Adrian Askarieh (producer of Hitman) and Prime Universe Films. While there is certainly lots of room for more story, I’m not really sure how well this premise will translate to the silver screen. As an action story, it does have some cinematic elements, but the homage to Watterson in the flashbacks strikes me as something that belongs in a comic. Even an animated film wouldn’t feel quite the same. I also feel my early skepticisms about appropriating Calvin and Hobbes resurfacing. Paying homage to a beloved comic strip in a short, self-contained run is one thing, but taking it to the big screen, a proposition Watterson turned down multiple times for Calvin and Hobbes, seems like it may be treading on his principles. That being said, I’m still curious and a little excited because this comic totally blew me away and constantly surprised me. 

Verdict
Buy it! Obviously you’ll want to pick up Spencer and Locke #4 if you’ve been following this series, as it answers (most of) our burning questions, while leaving some threads to potentially be picked up in the film. If you haven’t, I’d hold out for the collected trade that comes out August 2nd. It’s definitely worth a read!

Stephanie Pouliotte
stephpouliotte@gmail.com
Comics junkie. Internet lurker. Fantastic beast. I spend most of my time immersed in strange and fantastical stories, be it through books, comics, video games, movies or TV shows. Oh and I sometimes writes things down and stuff.

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