Spencer & Locke 2 #1: Prisoners of War
Writer: David Pepose
Artist: Jorge Santiago Jr.
Colourist: Jasen Smith
Letterer: Colin Bell
Publisher: Action Lab: Danger Zone
A review by Stephanie Pouliotte
Spencer & Locke didn’t pull any punches when it hit the comics scene in 2017 as a crime thriller rooted in a fierce boyhood friendship and an abusive past. It leaned so far into its premise (Calvin and Hobbes meets Sin City) that it came out the other side with a dark, affecting story and a growing cult following. Now writer David Pepose and artist Jorge Santiago are looking to bloody up the funny pages in Spencer & Locke 2, but will their take on Beetle Bailey keep our heroes on their toes, or will it be the straw that broke the comics back, turning this singular thriller into a gimmicky nightmare?
After the gripping showdown from last issue, Locke is facing down the barrel of an internal investigation, but he’s determined to keep his rash instincts in check and move forward on his own terms. However, by internalizing the traumatic events he just experienced, he’s pushing everyone he loves away. His dynamic with Spencer is very different, even if they occasionally fall back into step, and it provides a lot of room for this series to push our heroes in an interesting direction. It’s almost as though a kind of feedback loop has formed between them; the more Locke internalizes his feelings, the more Spencer reflects them, the more Locke pulls away.
After all, Spencer is a direct manifestation from the detective’s abusive childhood; he’s a coping mechanism that’s grown into a beast of his own, almost an extension of Locke’s psyche. As Santiago hinted in a recent interview with Rogues Portal, Spencer could be the harbinger of things to come and his demeanor in this first issue certainly suggests that Locke still can’t let go of the demons of the past.
Which is where Roach Riley steps in. Well actually, he steps in for the opening pages, as he sets the events of the story in motion with a cold-blooded murder. Though he seems like a character with a one-track mind, his first encounter with Locke suggests he’s able to see right through the walls he puts up; in fact he nearly tears them down. The ending leaves no question that the two have a lot more in common than we think and that this will be a key subplot. Santiago’s rendition of Roach is positively unnerving throughout, and his art on the last page reveal gives this series a touch of horror.
Buy it! Spencer & Locke 2 #1 is like a sniper shot: piercing, powerful, and precise. If anything, the addition of another comic parody in Roach Riley has tightened up the pacing, and sets up the perfect foil for our detective. Spencer & Locke 2 isn’t just coasting off its early success. This series will have a lot to unpack and I am here for it!